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Nine new NHL positives, 35 in all, as camps eyed next week

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New York (AFP)

The National Hockey League announced nine new players are positive for COVID-19 this past week, bringing the total to 35 players with training camps reportedly to open next week.

The NHL said Monday that 396 players had reported to training facilities for optional team workouts and more than 2,900 tests were taken, with more than 1,400 in the past week.

Those tests resulted in 23 positive tests for COVID-19, the NHL said Monday, a figure that included 15 such positives announced a week ago.

The NHL also said it knows of 12 players who have tested positive outside of team workouts since June 8, up one from a week ago.

Players testing positive have been self-isolating. No players or clubs were identified by the league, which reportedly plans to open training camps at team facilities next Monday.

According to Canada's Sports Network and ESPN, the NHL and NHL Players Association have agreed on tentative protocols for a resumption of the season starting August 1 but remain in talks for a new six-year collective bargaining agreement.

NHL team owners and league players would both have to ratify any deal to secure labor peace and set in motion the plan to finish a season halted March 12 by the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan reportedly will send 12 Eastern Conference teams to Toronto as a hub city with 12 from the Western Conference going to Edmonton, where the Stanley Cup Final would be staged in October.

Under reports of the terms, clubs would report to hub cities on July 25-26 after pre-season workouts and testing in home cities.

Each team would be allowed 52 people in the "secure zone" quarantine bubble with up to 31 players. Everyone would undergo daily COVID-19 testing, with 24 teams and 52 people per club meaning 1,248 people needing daily tests when everyone arrives and until teams are knocked out.

The top four clubs in each conference will play seeding games while the teams ranked fifth to 12th will meet in a five-game series to determine the four qualifiers that face the seeds in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Players would have three days from ratification of the deal to opt out of the NHL return, corresponding to when each team's bubble delegation would need to be submitted.

In the bubble, players will be in single rooms with one team per floor. Rooms will be cleaned every third day with pool and fitness centers open, room service and local restaurant delivery, hotel bars and restaurants available and excursions, such as to golf courses, with masks and social distancing plus secure transportation.

Masks will be mandatory outside of rooms within the bubble.

Partners and children can join players for the conference finals in Edmonton, with players on those clubs going five weeks without seeing families during the resumption of games.

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