NHL Reportedly Announces Tentative Return-to-Play Schedule amid COVID-19

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 12: A goal sits on the empty ice prior to the Detroit Red Wings playing against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on March 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Yesterday, the NBA suspended their season until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The NHL said per a release, that the uncertainty regarding next steps regarding the coronavirus, Clubs were advised not to conduct morning skates, practices or team meetings today. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The NHL has reportedly released its return-to-play schedule.

According to TSN reporter Frank Seravalli, games will begin later in July:

The adjusted season has also pushed back the 2020 offseason and start of 2020-21 season:

The 2019-20 campaign was paused in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league announced its resumption plan in May, with 24 teams competing in two hub cities.

This schedule features a qualifying round that will begin July 30, two days earlier than the initially agreed upon start date of Aug. 1.

Players are first expected to report to team facilities Monday, with all personnel being tested 48 hours prior and every other day thereafter as part of the Phase 3 protocols.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must remain out until 10 days' worth of quarantine or after two negative tests.

The league will begin Phase 4 when teams arrive at one of the two Canadian hubs in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta. There will be a short turnaround before preseason action and the games that count.

This is a significant difference from the NBA schedule, which will bring teams into its bubble in Orlando, Florida, this week and then wait nearly three weeks before the first games.

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While the NBA is holding eight seeding games per team, similar to the regular season, the NHL is leaping right into high-stakes action. Eight teams in each conference will compete in best-of-five matchups to advance. The top four teams in each conference have byes to the next round, but they will compete in round-robin play for seeding.

According to Emily Kaplan of ESPN, there will be three games per day in each hub for the first few weeks of action.