Professional sports are still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, the NHL announced their COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming 2022–23 season, in a seven-page document produced in cooperation with the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA), as training camps slowly start their activity.

The NHL developed these protocols in response to several factors, including the fact that player and club personnel’s health continues to be its top priority.

A player who tests positive for COVID-19 symptoms must stay in isolation for at least five days, and is only allowed to come out after both the NHL’s chief medical officer,  and the NHLPA’s chief medical consultant have given their approval.

After the initial five days of isolation, players who still show symptoms will remain in isolation, and won’t be allowed to leave until two negative molecular tests are collected more than two hours apart, and a lab-based PCR test comes back negative. Another option is to perform a laboratory-based PCR test, resulting in a CT value below 30.

NHL COVID protocol states that in the event that a player tests positive for COVID-19, he will continue to receive his salary for the duration of the absence from club activities.

In terms of game cancellation or postponement, the NHL has stated that it will consult with the commissioner to evaluate whether participating in a game, poses a significant risk to the health of players and club personnel. The league will then decide whether the games in question should be rescheduled.

The NHL probably wants to prevent a repetition of last season’s several game postponements, which caused a major headache for everyone involved.

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NHL COVID-19: What Happens to Unvaccinated Players?

Players are not obliged to have received the COVID-19 vaccination to participate in the upcoming season, but they are highly urged to do so.

However, for the upcoming season, the NHL COVID protocol has implemented new regulations that permit clubs to suspend unvaccinated players, who are prohibited from entering Canada under federal, and provincial law for each day they miss team activities.

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It’s known that, when it comes to COVID-19, one of the most urgent challenges is travel.



With Canada/U.S. border restrictions still in place, the rule states that NHL teams may ban unvaccinated players who are barred from club activities because of border limitations. In accordance with local, provincial/state, or federal health standards, teams may mandate that the players in question forfeit the equivalent of one day’s wage for each missed day.NHL and NHLPA Update Protocol for COVID-19

It is highly suggested, according to the NHL COVID protocol issued by the NHL and the NHLPA, that players continue to receive COVID-19 immunizations and boosters.

Players who test positive for COVID-19 and show symptoms, shall be isolated for at least five days. Only when they are asymptomatic, after permission from the club’s medical director and infectious disease specialist, and after informing the NHL’s top medical officer and the NHLPA’s main medical consultant, they are allowed to leave.

NHL Players With Symptoms of COVID-19

As it was said, according to NHL COVID protocol, players who aren’t immunized won’t be able to cross the border to play. Thus, the team can suspend them without paying for any missed days.

The player will not lose their income or other benefits if they contract COVID, regardless of whether they were vaccinated or not, as it will be recognized as an injury associated with hockey.

NHL COVID Protocol for Those Who Are Vaccinated

The NHL COVID protocol makes a note of travel quarantine rules, that may prevent unvaccinated people from entering the other nation, or force them into quarantine in both the U.S. and Canada.

Teams may suspend unvaccinated players who cannot participate in team activities, because of their vaccination status under the new regulations. Teams can also have those players forfeit their salary for each day they are missing in specific circumstances. Any player who tests negative otherwise will continue to be compensated, while they are unable to engage in team activities.

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Unless specific protocols or requests from government or health authorities are made, players cannot be barred from participating in team activities because of their vaccination status. A medical or religious exemption means unvaccinated players cannot be suspended or fined.

Players who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms must undergo a quick test, and be placed in quarantine while awaiting the results. If the initial test is negative, those athletes must test every day for three days.

Asymptomatic players who test positive may be released from isolation after the first five days, if they have two consecutive negative test results. As long as it has been more than 24 hours since their last fever, patients who were symptomatic and in isolation for six to nine days might be released from isolation with one negative test result. Anyone who leaves quarantine earlier than ten days, is required to cover their face until ten days have passed after the positive test.

Any player who displays an upper respiratory infection, must also undergo cardiac testing after being isolated.

Organizations must notify the media of any positive COVID-19 cases from a player as part of the 2022–23 procedures.

Postponing a training camp, game, or even an entire season is still an option. If the NHLPA or the league determine that continuing the season, will put players’ or others’ health and safety at serious risk, compromise the integrity of the competition, or both, Commissioner Gary Bettman retains the right to postpone, delay, or move training camp or a portion of the NHL season.


When Does the NHL 22-23 Start?

The NHL has chosen October 11 as the season’s debut date for 2022–23.

The date is consistent with the start of the 2021–22 season, which was on October 12. It also appears to be establishing a pattern for the NHL to start its season during the second week of October. The league has alternately used the first and second weeks of the month.

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Since the COVID-19 epidemic struck in 2020, next season is anticipated to be the first to follow a regular timetable. Due to a COVID-19 epidemic in late December and early January, that season’s general schedule was delayed for a short time. Despite the delay, every team was able to complete their 82-game regular season. For the first time since 2018–19, the league reached 82 games.

When Does the NHL Regular Season End?

On April 13, 2023, the regular season will come to an end. After that, the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs will start, though a specific date has not yet been announced.

How Long Is the Hockey Season?

The 2022-23 regular season will begin on October 7, 2022, and will end on April 13, 2023. After the end of the regular season, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin, and they will be played until June.

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