Protocols in place for families to join NHL bubble

Two weeks into the Stanley Cup playoffs, the NHL is still finalizing plans that would allow family members to join players in the bubble for the conference finals.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said final plans are "still up in the air" but that the league and the NHL Players' Association have worked out protocols.

To join players in their hotel rooms for the conference finals in the hub city of Edmonton, spouses or partners and children will need to self-isolate -- staying at home as much as possible and avoiding unnecessary interactions with non-family members -- for seven days before departure and produce three negative COVID-19 tests over the seven-day period, 48 hours apart.

Family members would have to quarantine in their hotel room (not in a room with the player) upon arrival for four days until four negative tests have been confirmed. Once the quarantine is over, they can be in the same hotel room as the player.

While in the bubble, family members would be subject to daily COVID-19 testing.

The NHLPA is gathering information from teams on how many players would be interested in bringing families in should they make it to the conference finals.

For the first three rounds, teams were allowed 52-person traveling parties in Toronto and Edmonton that did not include family members. The NHL and NHLPA conditionally agreed that players' families could join the bubble by the conference finals; by that point, the number of people in the bubble will have dwindled, and the NHL will be operating only out of Edmonton.

Integrating new people into the bubble was never going to be an easy task, and the NHL is trying to mitigate risk as much as possible. As commissioner Gary Bettman said July 24, ahead of the tournament, "It's something that the health authorities in Alberta, among others, will have to bless."

The league has reported zero positive confirmed COVID-19 tests through its first three weeks operating in two bubbles.