The NHL return has transitioned into the next phase of the process. The NHL PR released a statement Thursday evening that the NHL Return to Play Plan would move to Phase 2 beginning on Monday.
Phase 2 allows players to begin small group workouts (on and off-ice) in groups no larger than six players at team training camp facilities. Rules do not allow for coaches on the ice, but a limited number of support staff are permitted in the building. As part of the requirements, teams must test players at least twice per week at the team expense. Teams are also responsible for helping players return from their home cities, up to $1500 in expenses.
Players will participate voluntarily.
On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins also revealed one of their players tested positive for COVID-19, but was not in Pittsburgh and was feeling well. The Penguins offered no further comment.
Also on Thursday, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to the format details of the 24-team Stanley Cup playoffs. Each of the four playoff rounds will be seven-game series, and each round will be re-seeded.
TSN reporter Pierre LeBrun offered that not all teams will be able to open their training camp facilities by Monday as part of the NHL return plans. Toronto and New York are chief among those cities. LeBrun tweeted that he didn’t believe all teams would open immediately.
The Pittsburgh Penguins practice facility is in Butler County to which Gov. Tom Wolf has bestowed “Green” status. The Penguins should be able to open their facility on Monday. PHN has learned many players already rushed back to their hockey homes in anticipation of this move, last week. Several felt let down that progress appeared to have stalled, as the NHL also pushed back the earliest possible date to move to Phase 3, from July 1 to July 10.
All preparations for Phase 2, including testing and education, can begin immediately. PHN will have additional coverage as events continue to unfold.