July 6 (Reuters) - The NHL have reached a tentative agreement with the NHL Players’ Association on protocols to resume the season interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sides said on Monday.
As part of the agreement, formal training camps will start on July 13, clubs will head to one of two hub cities on July 26 with the play-in round for playoffs beginning on Aug. 1, the two sides said in a joint news release.
The tentative agreement is now subject to approval by the NHL’s Board of Governors, as well as the NHLPA’s Executive Board followed by the full NHLPA membership.
The review and approval processes will take place over the next few days.
There were three weeks and 189 games left in the regular season when the NHL suspended play in March due to the virus but the league eventually declared the regular season over in favour of getting right into post-season action.
Under the unique playoff format, the top four seeds in each conference — based on points percentage from the regular season — will receive byes through a play-in tournament but would take part in a three-game round-robin to stay fresh.
The other 16 teams in the expanded field would compete in a play-in round featuring best-of-five series to determine the rest of a traditional 16-team Stanley Cup playoff bracket.
The NHL and the Players’ Association also agreed to a memorandum of understanding that adds four years to the current labour agreement.
The collective bargaining agreement was scheduled to expire in Sept. 2022 but now could extend until Sept. 2026. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)