Minnesota Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk says that while talks are moving in the right direction, the NHL and NHLPA still have a lot of work to do in establishing an appropriate plan for returning to play.
Players voted last week in favor of a 24-team playoff format in the event the season can continue this summer. The NHL is expected to announce exactly how this expanded format will work as early as Tuesday.
"But that does not mean hockey's back," said Dubnyk, who represents the Wild on the NHLPA's 31-player executive board, according to The Athletic's Michael Russo. "We still have a long way to go."
He continued: "We voted strictly on the format. In other words, 'If we are to come back, this is how it's going to be played.' But we have not even touched on logistics or cities or travel or testing or how the economics will work or what this quarantine bubble (the players are) supposed to live in will be like or any of that stuff yet."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last week the league is examining eight or nine potential locations that could serve as hub cities to host games. Requirements for hub cities include a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases, sufficient hotel space for players and their families, suitable playing and practice facilities, and adequate testing areas.
But Dubnyk said many crucial questions remain.
"How long are guys OK with being away for? When we are in this city, are we locked in our hotel room?" he said. "Going from the hotel room to the rink and back only, are guys OK with just doing that? Can our families come with us, or if there's a family emergency and we leave the bubble (to go back into society), can we return to the bubble or are we done?
"What's the food situation? Like, can we only eat in our hotel rooms? How often are we tested? Who pays for that? What's the damage economically to the sport?
"All of these things - and there's so many variables - need to be talked about, and we've got to start getting a grasp on it now so that it doesn't just hit us in the face all of a sudden."
The NHL is looking to begin Phase 2 of its return-to-play plan in early June. At that point, players would be permitted to work out at team facilities in groups of no more than six.