With the start of the NHL’s 2020-21 season three weeks away, the league’s plans are starting to take shape. On Tuesday, the league announced its key dates for the season as well as extensive health and safety protocols, including coronavirus testing measures and opt-out clauses.

Any player may opt out of the season without discipline or penalty. The player must inform his club seven days before training camp, which begins Dec. 31 for the seven teams that did not participate in the 2020 postseason and Jan. 3 for everyone else.

Health and safety measures for all teams start before training camp. Players who travel to take part in training camp will have to go through a seven-day quarantine that includes coronavirus testing on Days 1, 3, 5 and 7. There are different rules for teams in Canada and the United States, but the basics remain the same and follow local restrictions and guidelines.

On the ice during training camp, there will be no limit to how many players can take part in practice each day, but workouts in the weight room will be limited to groups of up to 10 players at a time.

During the season, players will undergo daily temperature checks, and they will self-administer them not more than two hours before entering their club’s facilities. Players and other club personnel will be tested daily during training camp and for the first four weeks of the regular season. After that, the league will reevaluate to see whether clubs should test every other day.

Among other health protocols in place for the 2020 postseason, held this summer in Edmonton and Toronto, players had to undergo daily testing, symptom checks and temperature screenings.

During the season, the identity of any player who has a confirmed positive coronavirus test will be announced. During training camp, the league will release leaguewide numbers instead. During the 2020 postseason, the NHL kept the results of positive coronavirus tests private, but none were reported in the hub cities.

This season, if a player tests positive, he must immediately self-isolate and follow requirements consistent with local public health regulations. For a player who is asymptomatic, there are two ways out of isolation: test negative or wait 10 days. If he is still asymptomatic at that point, he can return to the ice. A player who is symptomatic faces different standards: He must test negative twice or have at least 10 days pass since symptoms appeared. Additionally, all players must be cleared by a cardiologist and a team physician before returning to play.

If a player tests positive, teammates who are identified as close contacts will not have to quarantine if they test negative, remain asymptomatic and do not have a fever.

In-season, home teams must make game or practice arenas available for road teams, which cannot practice at third-party rinks. Practices are also not permitted to be open to the public, and players are not allowed to carpool or take public transportation to and from the rink.

While on the road, players cannot “patronize or enter internal venues other than the designated hotel, the practice facility or the game arena,” the protocols say. Each city will have a hotel designated for all visiting clubs to use, and players will not have roommates on the road. Players and staff members who do not follow the league’s coronavirus protocols will be prohibited from continuing to participate in the season.

Off-ice protocols include coaches being required to wear masks at all times — including on the bench — unless they are on the ice.

The trade deadline is set for April 12, and the season will end May 8. The playoffs are penciled in to begin May 11, with July 9 the last possible day for the Stanley Cup finals. The Seattle Kraken expansion draft is scheduled for July 21, with the entry draft following July 23 and 24. Free agency will begin July 28.

The 23-man roster limit and $81.5 million salary cap will remain intact, but teams will be allowed a taxi squad of four to six players who will be paid their American Hockey League salaries. The league is requiring teams to carry at least three goaltenders at all times. During training camp, 36 skaters and an unlimited number of goaltenders are allowed.

The NHL also modified its offside rule: Under the old rule, a player’s skate had to touch the blue line without crossing its far edge for him to remain onside. Now, the skate no longer needs to be in contact with the line — the plane of the blue line will extend upward — for him to be onside.

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