The NHL provided players, coaches, and executives with a one-hour presentation Thursday, explaining life in hub cities, and detailing some of the particulars of Phase 4 of the Return to Play plan.
The NHL has staff already working in the two hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto and things are definitely in the works as 12 teams prepare to arrive in each city on Saturday.
The league will run 12 exhibition games, six in Toronto and six in Edmonton, from Tuesday to Thursday. Stanley Cup qualifying play will officially begin August 1, with three games in Toronto and the Scotiabank Arena and two games in Edmonton at Rogers Place.
Qualifiers will determine the seeding of teams in each conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
When the playoffs do begin, the first two rounds will take place in the hub cities. Edmonton will host each conference final and the Stanley Cup Final, with a tentative date set for September 22. The Stanley Cup Final will end no later than October 4.
“This is going to be an unusual, to say the least, endeavour,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “It will be challenging at times, but I assure you we, in conjunction with the Players’ Association, who we work with every step of the way, are trying to do everything possible to make this an experience that hopefully you’ll never forget, but in a good way.”
The NHL will take charge of daily COVID-19 testing and will have results for players within 24 hours. LifeLabs will be participating in Toronto, while Edmonton testing will be done through DynaLIFE. The hub cities will use CLEAR kiosks, which involves the use of an app to help streamline things like symptoms and temperature checks.
With just two positive tests of COVID-19 since training camp began on July 13, the league is pretty assured their precautions are having the right impact.
“I can tell you that so far this week we have not had a confirmed positive,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “I think it’s a credit to the seriousness with which are players are taking the precautions that are necessary.”
Along with details about Phase 4’s testing and handling of COVID-19 specifics, the NHL also revealed a glimpse into life in the hub cities and explained a little about how games will be broadcast.
Some interesting details include:
- Fencing surrounding the “safe zones” in the hub cities that will be overseen by security guards and health ambassadors
- Restaurants with a variety of food choices
- A concierge system to allow the delivery of outside goods, like food, pharmaceuticals, and other items
- Designated spaces for indoor and outdoor activities, including spaces for patio decks, player lounges, movie theatres, and other amenities
- Hotels with provisions like meeting rooms, fitness facilities, etc.
- LED screens, stages, and monitors to assist in the presentation of the game for the television audience
- Broadcasting of games using 32 cameras per game, a dozen more than normal
- The sound library of EA Sports will be used to help “mimic” audio from games
- A five-second delay to account for any “unsavoury language” that may be used by players and heard due to a lack of fans in the arenas