The NHL is looking forward to Phase 2 — small group activities at team facilities — even if the league and the NHL Players Association, in a joint statement on Wednesday night, insisted no timeline has been set for the potential resumption of play.
“The precise date of transition to Phase 2, during which Players might return to small group activities in NHL Club training facilities, remains undetermined,” the joint NHL / NHLPA statement said. “However, 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-later portion of May. Specific guidelines governing Player and Hockey Staff activity would be provided at that time.”
The NHL paused its season on March 12 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak with a recommendation that players and personnel go into a self-quarantine. That subsequently was extended to Thursday.
“We expect Players and Hockey Staff to continue to adhere to the recommended guidelines put in place when the season was paused on March 12,” the joint statement said.
There still are many issues that need to be resolved, including potential travel restrictions on players who left the United States or Canada. It’s likely that players returning from outside North America will be asked to self-quarantine for an additional two weeks.
One of the models for resumption of play that commissioner Gary Bettman has discussed publicly is for groups of teams to be sequestered at four NHL sites. Practices and games would be conducted at league facilities without fans in the arena.
There has been some pushback from players not happy with the thought of being sequestered away from their families.
“A team that reaches the Stanley Cup Final could be away from their loved ones for three to four months,” the Canadiens’ Phillip Danault said on Tuesday in a question-and-answer session with the media published on the team’s website. “That’s not human.”