NHL allowing teams to open training facilities for players next week

Hockey will be making its long awaited return, with players available for training in their respective cities on Monday.

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June 5, 2020 - 3:07 PM

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media prior to the All-Star Skills Competition at Enterprise Center in St Louis on January 24, 2020. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/TNS)

LOS ANGELES — The NHL’s restart plan took two small steps forward Thursday when the league disclosed details of its planned 24-team Stanley Cup playoff format and gaining momentum when the league announced that Phase 2 of its “Return to Play” plan will begin Monday. In the second of four planned phases, teams will be allowed to open their training facilities in their respective home city for players to begin voluntary workouts on and off the ice in groups no larger than six.

The NHL has been in Phase 1 of its plan since Commissioner Gary Bettman paused the season March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. No timeframe was spelled out for the length of Phase 2, a period that would begin with pre-participation medical evaluations for players and would limit contact between players and club personnel. Physical distancing practices and enhanced disinfecting and cleaning measures will be in effect. Players and club personnel will be tested for the coronavirus 48 hours before they return to their club’s training facilities and will be tested at least twice weekly during that phase. The temperatures of those admitted to the facility will be checked every day.

Phase 3 would entail opening full training camps, which isn’t expected to begin before July 10, and Phase 4 would involve launching the playoffs in two “hub” cities, almost certainly without fans, in late July or early August. The league and the NHL Players’ Association have not established a timetable for any step, recognizing the changeable nature of the coronavirus outbreak and the necessity of navigating various local and federal health and safety guidelines.

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