NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to announce the league’s return to play format this afternoon.
Bettman is set to make a televised address at 3:30 p.m.about what hockey would look like if the NHL can resume the season this summer. That means a 24-team straight-to-playoffs format with the league’s other seven teams having their seasons ended.
Bettman's annoucement will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.
The Players’ Association voted last week to approve the 24-team format proposed by the Return to Play committee. It involves the top four teams in each conference playing a mini-tournament for seeding, while the other 16 face off in best-of-five series to set the field.
The Wild would be among the 24 teams in the field. Before the regular season was suspended by the pandemic, the team was one point out of a berth in the tradition 16-team Stanley Cup field.
There is still no timetable for the resumption of game action or when players can return to team facilities for voluntary workouts.
While the NHL hasn’t decided exactly when players will be allowed to train at team facilities or how long this phase of the process will last, it has outlined the protocol that will be in place.
In a 22-page memo released Monday, the NHL announced small-group activities on and off the ice will be voluntary and individualized and these workouts will only be allowed in areas where health authorities have approved such gatherings.
A maximum of six players will be permitted inside the facility at one time, along with a limited number of team staff members. These six players will remain in the same small group so that any infection or exposure that might occur will be contained within that group.
All personnel must be 6 feet apart while inside and outside of the facility. Players must wear face coverings when entering and leaving the facility and inside where social distancing isn’t possible. Face coverings aren’t required when players are on the ice or exercising.
Activities must allow for appropriate social distancing, such as player-only, noncontact skating sessions or weight training that doesn’t require a spotter. Coaches and other team employees won’t be allowed on the ice.
Players from other clubs who are staying near another team’s facility may request access to skate and weight train.
Those who participate in these activities will not be permitted to skate or work out at any public facility or other location and may not organize any outside group skates.
Before reporting to a facility, players will self-administer symptom and temperature checks at home, and another check will be conducted at the entrance of the facility.
Each team will determine if excess testing is available in its area so as not to take away resources from health care workers, vulnerable populations and symptomatic individuals. If accessible, testing will be performed 48 hours before personnel returns to the facility and, if possible, on an ongoing basis during training.
If testing isn’t obtainable, personnel must self-quarantine for 14 days before entering the facility or prove that they have already self-quarantined for the previous 14 days in the team’s home area. Players who return to the club’s market by public transportation, like commercial air travel, will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days before entering the team’s facility.
Amid these guidelines and regular cleaning and disinfecting, the NHL isn’t expecting entire teams to quarantine should an isolated case, or cases, of COVID-19 occur.
The Associated Press contributed to this report