Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello speaks with the...

Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello speaks with the media at Northwell Health Ice Center as the Islanders wrap up the end of their season on May 6, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

A month later, Lou Lamoriello might be even more optimistic the NHL will be able to resume its season at some point this summer after it was paused on March 12 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I still feel the same way I did when we spoke,” the Islanders president and general manager told Newsday on Friday, referring to an interview on April 2, when he said, “I’m extremely optimistic that we will play at some time as far as this season.”

“In fact, I might feel even better,” Lamoriello added on Friday.

The NHL and the NHL Players Association issued a joint statement on Wednesday indicating if “conditions continue to trend favorably” team facilities may be able to be opened to “small group activities” in mid- to late-May.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said in an interview on the NHL Network Thursday that no decisions have been made on a timeline for trying to restart play.

Bettman added he is in constant communication with NHLPA executive director Don Fehr as the two leaders work to resolve all the issues – health, logistics, finish the regular season or not, playoff format – associated with trying to restart play.

“They certainly both want to do what’s right for the game and I think they’re working towards that,” Lamoriello said. “Our focus is on safety and health first so everything will come after that. I think they’re doing it the right way. They’re communicating and keeping it within a small group. Because, when you have a big group, rumors start. But I’m totally comfortable where it’s at.”

The coronavirus outbreak is, of course, far from resolved but some states have begun to ease the stay-at-home guidelines.

The NHL/NHLPA joint statement recommended its players and personnel continue the self-quarantine guidelines put in place on March 12. But a source confirmed that a memo sent to league players and personnel in advance of the joint statement being issued indicated that players who had returned home begin to consider returning to their team’s city.

“It’s great to see the country starting to open up, yet cautiously opening up,” Lamoriello said. “I believe we need sports.”

But Lamoriello understands there will be restrictions even if play resumes.

“Will we play in front of crowds?” Lamoriello said. “I do not feel that we’ll be doing that. But I think there will be a chance, through television, to get people watching."

Play might not be able to resume until July, at the earliest, given the players' need to work themselves back into game shape through a second training camp. Bettman repeated on Thursday that the NHL does not want to impact its ability to play a full 2020-21, even if the start to next season is pushed back until December.

Lamoriello said he did not know what the timeline for either the resumption of this season or next season might be.

“When that will happen, I don’t know, but that will take care of itself,” he said. “But I’m really pleased with the process that I’m seeing and the communication that’s going on. Yes, I am optimistic.”

Lamoriello also said he had no update on the progress toward signing Russian goalie Ilya Sorokin, a third-round pick in 2014 whose KHL contract expired on Thursday.

Lamoriello said in March he had “every indication that he will be here for next season.”

“I have nothing different from what I’ve said all along,” Lamoriello said on Friday.

Sorokin spent six seasons with CSKA Moscow, leading that team to the Gagarin Cup championship in 2019 while being named the playoff MVP.

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