NHL To Reopen Training Facilities In Late May
The NHL still cannot provide a definite date for the return of the season this year. However, the league plans to reopen training facilities in late May and permit players to get back in shape with the right venue and equipment for it to give more hope to a July return.
Through a phone call, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly shared NHL’s plans regarding the season comeback: “Provided that conditions continue to trend favorably—and, subject to potential competitive concerns as between disparately situated markets—we believe we may be able to move to Phase 2 at some point in the mid-to-late portion of May.”
As the NHL has plans to reopen its facilities, Daly warned other players not to make early decisions for themselves regarding training. Daly added: “No one would be allowed to skate in any of the facilities, and if any teams allow players on the ice, they would be subject to a fine…There are certain facilities that would not be able to open due to local stay-at-home orders, and that would give certain teams an unfair competitive advantage.”
Players are allowed to use team facilities for voluntary workouts starting May 8. The chosen NHL facility should not be under a shelter-in-place order.
Aside from the reopening of training facilities, the latest plan is to restart the season in four centrally-located NHL arenas and host several teams playing multiple games per day. The practice and living areas of the staff and players should be COVID-19 ready to avoid the potential spread of the virus among the participants.
Earlier this year, the league said that it’s willing to wait until midsummer and beyond to complete the season. What matters is keeping players and staffers as safe as possible. Regardless of the month, it’s important that the new schedule can absolutely prevent an 82-game 2020-21 NHL season from happening.
The NHL Players’ Association is also deciding if they need to host a three-week training camp to help players train. From the discussion, both the association and the league might allow players to return to the ice but with a limited number of groups in practice sessions. It’s a setup adopted from European soccer leagues battling the pandemic. The rule of six groups at a time is under consideration.