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Report: NHL’s Phase 3/4 will include “opt out clause” for any player not wanting to return

NHL insider John Shannon with the latest from negotiations between the league and players.

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While the NHL and NHLPA continue to work on the logistics of its Return to Play plan, fans are getting more and more details of what the game will look like when the players hit the ice again. 

While it’s not yet been officially confirmed by the NHL, it’s been widely reported that the Canadian cities of Toronto, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta have been chosen as the Eastern Conference and Western Conference hub cities. Just today TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie reported that the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final will be played in Edmonton.

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With Edmonton and Toronto being chosen as the two NHL Hub cities, the question most often asked now is, which of the two will play host to the Stanley Cup final and Conference finals?

The answer, apparently, is Edmonton.

Interesting. It makes sense, to be honest. Edmonton has, on the whole, managed to stop the spread of COVID-19 better than Toronto has, that’s for sure. 

When the NHL does officially announce Edmonton and Toronto as its hub cities, it’s expected that they’ll also announce their plans for moving to Phase 3 of their Return to Play format. Former Sportsnet hockey insider John Shannon reports that as part of Phase 3/4 that players will have the ability to opt out of the playoffs and effectively say, “I’m not playing.”

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Also expecting that any Phase3/4 agreement between the sides will include Players’ ability to opt out of the summer tournament. They can just say “I’m not playing”.  
Don’t need a reason. Any player can opt out for any reason or no reason.

Another interesting development. This is the first time that I feel like this has ever been reported publicly. Maybe we were all naive in assuming that players could opt out, but near as I can tell the league itself hasn’t commented on the matter. Shannon’s report seems to indicate that the league is receptive to the fact that maybe not all players will be comfortable in exposing themselves and their families to an unnecessary risk. The fact of the matter is that these players will effectively be used as rats in a giant science experiment and you can't blame them for opting out.