Phase 2 of NHL's return-to-play eyeing start in "early June"

May 25 2020, 5:18 pm

The NHL has released a framework explaining how and when its players will return to on- and off-ice training with their respective teams. The announcement comes shortly after the NHLPA authorized negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format.

The framework, outlined in a memorandum, says that following a lengthy self-quarantine period, players will soon enter Phase 2 and be “permitted to return to NHL Club training facilities and small-group individualized training activities.”

While there’s no set timeline for the return, the NHL says they’re “targeting a date in early June” to transition to Phase 2. The memo also stresses that there’s no telling how long Phase 2 will last and that developments in each team’s markets will have an impact on the process.

Participation in the next phase will also be “strictly voluntary.” Clubs won’t be allowed to force their players to join in this return to team training.

Health and safety measures prior to starting training

Those that do take part will have to abide by a strict set of health and safety measures. When a player returns to their club’s respective city, they’ll be required to serve a 14-day self-quarantine, regardless of their mode of travel. Players won’t be allowed to carpool with other members of the team or league.

Extensive testing will be required prior to using a team’s training facilities. For starters, players will need to be tested for COVID-19 two days before starting training. If the results of a test haven’t been processed, or don’t indicate a negative result, they won’t be allowed to participate. The NHL adds that they’re working on establishing league-wide testing, but it’s still in progress.

Two temperature checks will also need to be completed on a daily basis. The first takes place within two hours of a player or an authorized personnel entering the facility. The second will take place outside the arena before they can enter. Each team will be required to keep a daily log of individuals that enter, along with a record of their daily temperature and symptom check.

The final test before training is a pre-participation medical evaluation, which involves examining the player’s existing injuries, their medical records, and performing a cardiac screening. Players will also be required to wear a protective mask any time they’re not exercising, and medical staff and trainers will need to use them at all times.

What on- and off-ice training will look like

Within a team’s training facilities, clubs can have gatherings of up to six players at one time, plus a select member of the club’s training staff. This rule will apply to on-ice training and any off-ice training that takes place. If a player chooses to work out at their team’s facility, they won’t be permitted to work out or skate at other locations.

The memo explicitly states that coaches and personnel won’t be allowed to participate in or interact during on-ice sessions — they can only observe. Goalies will be the exemption, as they’ll be allowed to invite an independent goalie coach after seven days of beginning on-ice activity.

The use of team facilities will be planned out in advance, as players are to have designated “shifts” to schedule the start and end time of their training sessions.

Contact between players and hockey operations staff, however, will not be permitted. Teams also won’t be allowed to do any sort of fitness testing on their players. The most contact players have will be with trainers or a member of the medical staff.

If a player shows symptoms of coronavirus

If a player starts to show symptoms of coronavirus, they’ll be require to report these symptoms immediately. They’ll be deemed “unfit to play,” and their condition will be deemed a hockey-related injury. Contract tracing will need to be done by the team.

Outside of the club, players will be required to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary interactions with non-family members — they won’t be allowed to socialize with other members of the team.

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