Phase 2 of the NHL's Return to Play Plan Begins Today

By Rob Mixer on June 8, 2020 at 9:50 am
Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella addresses his team prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
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The Blue Jackets players currently in town – and those planning to arrive soon – are now permitted to resume skating.

Late last week, the NHL announced that it's moving into Phase 2 of the Return To Play plan, in which team facilities are reopened to players to skate and train in small groups.

In Columbus, Seth Jones, Elvis Merzlikins, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Cam Atkinson and others are among those players in town with more believed to be arriving soon.

Phase 2 officially begins today (June 8). Here's official word from the NHL:

Clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities (off-ice and on-ice). Players will be participating on a voluntary basis and will be scheduled to small groups (i.e., a maximum of six Players at any one time, plus a limited number of Club staff). The various measures set out in the Phase 2 Protocol are intended to provide players with a safe and controlled environment in which to resume their conditioning. Phase 2 is not a substitute for training camp.

All necessary preparations for Phase 2, including those that require Player participation (education, diagnostic testing, scheduling for medicals, etc.), can begin immediately. The NHL and the NHLPA continue to negotiate over an agreement on the resumption of play.

The third phase of the plan is opening training camps, which the league has told players will not resume until July 10 at the earliest. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has previously said the league is prepared to play games (under its 24-team format) well into the summer and fall, with the goal of awarding the Stanley Cup for the 2019-20 season. 

It's possible and perhaps probable that the 2020-21 NHL season will not begin until November or December. 

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