© Reuters. Ice Hockey – NHL Global Series – Florida Panthers v Winnipeg Jets

(Reuters) – The National Hockey League and union representing its players have reached a tentative agreement on protocols to resume a season interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said on Sunday.

Daly told Reuters the two sides were finalizing details on an extension to the current bargaining agreement, which, along with return-to-play protocols, would need to be ratified by the union’s executive committee followed by a full membership vote.

A spokesman for the NHL Players’ Association did not immediately respond when asked to comment on the status of talks by Reuters.

TSN reported that players on the 24 teams, who will compete in an expanded playoff format across two hub cities, could opt out of participating without penalty but need to make their decision by Tuesday.

The report also said players and club personnel would be tested 48 hours prior to returning to training facilities and every other day thereafter.

The playoffs, which will be held without fans, are to begin on Aug. 1 and the Stanley Cup awarded in October, barring any further COVID-19 stoppage.

Ratification will not take place until the collective bargaining agreement memorandum of understanding is finalised, TSN said.

Canada’s Sportsnet said coaches would not be required to wear face coverings on the bench and that the agreed-upon protocols included a framework for how the return-to-play would be called off if the virus cannot be contained.

There were three weeks and 189 games left in the regular season when the NHL suspended play in March.

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