It’s still not a concrete guarantee that the NHL will be able to continue the 2019-20 season, but the league took a big step forward on Thursday, announcing that Phase 2 of the Return To Play Plan will begin on Monday, June 8.
So, what does that mean? Well, in Phase 2, players will be able to return to team facilities and train together in small groups of no more than six players. Per NHL Public Relations:
Beginning June 8 — subject to each Club’s satisfaction of all of the requirements set out in the Phase 2 Protocol — Clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities (off-ice and on-ice). Players will be participating on a voluntary basis and will be scheduled to small groups (i.e., a maximum of six Players at any one time, plus a limited number of Club staff). The various measures set out in the Phase 2 Protocol are intended to provide players with a safe and controlled environment in which to resume their conditioning. Phase 2 is not a substitute for training camp.
All necessary preparations for Phase 2, including those that require Player participation (education, diagnostic testing, scheduling for medicals, etc.), can begin immediately. The NHL and the NHLPA continue to negotiate over an agreement on the resumption of play.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the NHL is still over a month away from beginning official team training camps. The earliest training camps can begin is July 10. Once that begins, teams will be permitted to play a maximum of two exhibition games during camp.
There are still some hoops to jump through, but the NHL is steadily getting the ball rolling again. Before we know it, we could be watching the Wild and Canucks duke it out in a five-game play-in series.