The NHL is currently in phase 2 of their Return to Play plan that began on June 8. The league also announced recently that they will move on to phase 3 on July 10. This phase will allow teams to hold formal training camps while maintaining medical and safety protocols. Here is a look at the league’s Return to Play timeline as of June 17.
Return to Play Timeline as of June 17
Phase 1: Pause and self-quarantine with the regular season deemed over.
The NHL paused the regular season on March 12 just a day after the World Health Organization called COVID-19 a pandemic. Twelve teams that are both in playoff contention and bubble teams are selected and positioned to enter the 24-team playoff format based on points percentage.
Phase 2: Teams are allowed to re-open facilities. Non-contact skating for players in small groups.
The league will allow teams to open their facilities for voluntary practices. These practices will only consist of six players with a limited number of personnel. This is the phase the NHL is currently on as of today.
It’s just nice to see & hear hockey again 😊 pic.twitter.com/wxiJzSaYbP
— y-Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 15, 2020
Phase 3: Formal training camp begins.
All players and personnel will be allowed to have formal training camps that are believed to last for three weeks. However, that is tentative and the length of this phase will depend on “guidance from medical and civil authorities”. This phase will open on July 10 with the continuing guidance of medical and safety conditions. This phase will also open if the NHL and the NHLPA come to an agreement of resuming play.
Phase 4: Play resumes. The start of conference based round-robin and qualifying round games as well as the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The league will resume play starting with the conference based round-robin and qualifying round games. These games will be played by the remaining 24 teams that are in playoff contention or a bubble team that would have reached a playoff spot before the March 12 pause. These games will also be held in two hub cities that have yet to be determined. The league is looking at 10 cities which are Chicago, IL, Columbus, OH, Dallas, TX, Edmonton, AB, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, CA, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pittsburgh, PA, Toronto, ON, and Vancouver, BC.
Canadien Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opens the nation for the NHL to hold a hub city. However, the NHL is still awaiting local health authorities in Canada to allow this to happen. The league also must work with Canadien government should a Canadien city be a hub city. The NHL is still in the process of choosing which cities will be the two hub cities for both conferences. Ten cities are under consideration with Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver being a potential hub city.
One main concern the league has is the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule that Trudeau put into effect. There are also border limitations for non-essential travel between Canada and the United States until at least July 21. How this limitation will affect the Return to Play plan is still uncertain.