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NHL players can begin voluntary workouts as early as Oct. 15

NHL logo on the back of a goal net.
The NHL will allow players to take part in voluntary, offseason workouts as early as Oct. 15 as long as regional COVID-19 regulations are met.
(Scott Taetsch / Getty Images)

NHL players can begin voluntary offseason workouts in their respective clubs’ home cities in advance of the 2020-21 season starting on Oct. 15 as health regulations permit in those cities, the league announced on Thursday. However, the league didn’t establish dates for the start of training camp or the start of next season.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week the launch date of the 2020-21 season could “slip into January” because of the delay that pushed this season through the summer and because of ongoing concerns related to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Stanley Cup Final, in which the Tampa Bay Lightning lead the Dallas Stars 2-1, will finish no later than Sept. 30 in the Edmonton playoff bubble. The league has reported no positive COVID-19 tests among players or staff in the controlled environment. The NHL’s annual draft will be held virtually on Oct. 6-7. Free agency will begin on Oct. 9.

The offseason protocol announced by the league was agreed to after discussions with the NHL Players’ Assn. and in consultation with medical and epidemiologic experts. Among the terms of the protocol is that no more than 12 people will be permitted on the ice at once. Also, “an additional number of Players are permitted elsewhere in the facility as determined to be appropriate by the Club Medical Director and local infectious diseases specialist,” the news release said.

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Alex Turcotte, the No. 5 pick in the 2019 draft, is one of several prospects the Kings have lent to European teams while the NHL sorts out next season’s schedule.

Some players might be required to self-quarantine for 14 days before engaging in offseason activities, depending on local, state or federal regulations. Extensive testing will be conducted before and during players’ use of club facilities.

All workouts must follow social distancing guidelines and no contact will be permitted. Social distancing will also apply to use of the locker room. The composition of each workout group must remain the same, “so that any infection or exposure that might occur will be contained within that group and in order to facilitate contact tracing,” according to the protocol. Players who participate in these sessions won’t be allowed to work out or skate at another public facility or create other skating sessions.

The Kings and the Ducks didn’t qualify for the NHL’s expanded, 24-team postseason format and, as a result, have not been on the ice since Bettman paused the season on March 12. If the 2020-21 season begins in January, they will have been off the ice for nearly 10 months.


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