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NHL unveils document detaling protocols for Phase 2 of possible return

On March 12, the National Hockey League put its 2019-20 season on pause due to the outbreak of the COVID-19. Following weeks of speculation on ideas of what an altered playoff format would look like upon resumption of the season, the NHL Players Association’s executive committee voted in favor of the NHL’s proposed 24-team playoff format if and when the season resumes. On Monday morning, the league took another step when they released a document detailing Phase 2 of a possible return to the ice.

The memo describing Phase 2 of the league’s return-to-play process outlines the reopening of practice facilities and the resumption of small workouts. The league currently favors a start date in early June.

Although the league wants to begin Phase 2 in June, an exact date of the start of this phase remains unknown at this time.

In addition to restrictions for on-ice workouts, this phase is also voluntary

With player safety being of the utmost concern, perhaps the most crucial detail from the league’s memo is that participation in this phase is “strictly voluntary.” Teams cannot demand that players travel back to the cities in which they play. In addition, the league plans to restrict workouts for players. A maximum of six players can enter a team facility. Coaches and team personnel cannot be on the ice with their players. On top of that, players must wear face masks when entering and leaving their respective facilities and can only removed for on-ice and off-ice workouts.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston also reported that there will be coronavirus testing before and during Phase 2.

While the league plans to test players and team personnel, they reiterated in the document that it won’t come at the expense of testing for health care workers, vulnerable populations, and individuals showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Despite its detailed plan for Phase 2, the memo did not mention a start date for training camps or a resumption of the season.

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