The NHL and the NHLPA have agreed on the commencement of Phase 3 of their Return to Play plan, announcing the opening of formal training camps as of July 10.
That will mean 24 teams take the ice to prepare for the 2019-2020 playoffs.
The return to training camps is conditional on whether medical and safety conditions allow and whether the parties have agreed on returning to play. The length of training camp is still to be determined, as is the resumption of actual play.
Speculation has the likely resumption of NHL hockey at the beginning of August, but anything can happen between now and then.
The NHL opened practice facilities at teams’ own discretion Monday, with small group training sessions taking place among some clubs.
The biggest possible issue going forward will be that of the 14-day quarantine requirement for those returning to Canada from other countries. Quarantine may be extended to include the facilities in which players skate, but it’s also possible that the government doesn’t clear this. If that’s the case, we can probably assume some Canadian clubs will choose to hold training camp in the United States where regulations are less stringent.
Although it might seem like this is all a go, there are hurdles as usual. While the NHL and the players have agreed to a start date for the formal training camps but not an agreement on resuming play itself. This will require a lot of details, including how much freedom of movement players will have in hub cities and where those hub cities will be for the playoffs.
Players’ families will also have to be considered, as many will not want to make a commitment to be away from their families for that long.
Nevertheless, we have a date. And that date is something, even if the variables around it still make everything subject to change.