NHL releases details of “Phase 2.”

Details inside.

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The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association have laid out the ground rules for what will be "Phase 2" of their plan to resume the 2019 - 2020 NHL season. On Monday the NHL and NHLPA sent out a massive 29 page memo outlining instructions for players who wish to resume practicing at team facilities, and as you would expect there are some very strict guidelines in here.

First and foremost there has been no date assigned in the memo for when the NHL will begin the move into Phase 2, however given that the memo was released today I would suspect that they intend to do so in the relatively near future. Players will be allowed to practice together however they will be limited to a maximum of 6 players in club facilities at any given time. Obviously this will create limitations for teams but it is obviously better than nothing, but what will probably be even more frustrating for teams and players will be the regulations they will have to follow on the ice. 

According to the memo players will have to remain six feet apart from one another at all times, a situation that could prove difficult for teams trying to get into game shape prior to the season resuming. Of course before they can actually hit the ice all players and team staff will have to be tested for COVID-19 two days prior to the beginning of Phase 2 training. In order to ensure that players remain safe all contact and all fitness testing has been temporarily suspended and it sounds like the NHL is going to taking some hard stances to make sure players don't get infected.

Players will have to undergo some form of basic testing each and every day they will want to be at the team facilities, with the meo stating that "players and club staff must administer a temperature and symptom check every day _ upon their arrival at the club facility." These may sound like strict guidelines but I would expect that teams will be following them to the letter of the law as the punishment for ignoring the guidelines sounds like it will be very severe. The NHL has threatened that teams caught ignoring the guidelines could face fines, the loss of future draft picks, or even "ineligibility to participate in the resumption of play." Those are definitely the type of penalties that every team participating in this modified playoff tournament will want to avoid at all costs. 

Last but not least it sounds like NHL players who are currently living in close proximity to a team facility, even a rival one, will have the right to use those facilities to begin their training in Phase 2. This is clearly designed to avoid having players that live in a different country crossing the border and being subjected to potential quarantines as a result. 

Update: The NHLPA has reported that Phase 2 is set to begin sometime in early June, although no date has been set yet.