The National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association have come to an agreement on the league’s “return to play” plan, paving the way for hockey to resume early next month.
According to a press release, teams will begin training camps on July 13, and will travel to their respective hub cities on July 26 to begin preparations for resuming the season.
On Aug. 1, the qualifying round of the postseason will begin, officially resuming play after a hiatus of nearly five months.
The NHL will use two hub cities for the start of play, with Western Conference teams, including the Chicago Blackhawks, heading to Edmonton and Eastern Conference teams heading to Toronto.
The Stanley Cup Final will be contested in Edmonton under the NHL’s plan.
The deal will need to be approved by the league’s Board of Governors, along with the NHLPA’s Executive Board and the full membership of the players’ association.
Those votes are expected to take place in the coming days.
The terms of the deal also include numerous provisions for player safety and testing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with players having to remain in designated areas during the duration of the “return to play” plan.
Any players or staff violating those rules will be subject to discipline, and teams could face financial penalties and loss of draft picks for violations of league policies.
When that approval is reached, the Blackhawks will be one of 24 teams participating in the qualifying round tournament. They will take on the Edmonton Oilers in that tournament, with the winner heading to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.