It’s been another week of varying reports from the NHL regarding the draft and resuming the 2019-2020 season, but it appears a plan may finally be emerging with regards to completing the 2019-2020 season.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie provided an overview of the current plan in its early stages Thursday night on TSN’s Insider Trading:
“Everything is subject to health officials, government officials, from region-to-region and country-to-country and so forth. All of that said, the National Hockey League is looking at this in phases. And we’re currently in Phase 1 and we have been for a while. And that is basically quarantine, lockdown, self-isolation, nothing tangibly really happening. But the NHL is optimistic that at some point here — and when that is we can talk about some more – maybe to go into Phase 2.
And Phase 2 would be players in Europe coming back to North America. Players from all over the world basically reporting back to their base camps, their teams, if permitted. And getting into a quarantine for a two-week period where they would train, small group training. Start to ramp it up.
At that point, maybe after two weeks, they can get to Phase 3, which would be the much talked about four divisional cities that would host multiple teams in those locations. And there would be a two-to-three week training camp there.
And then of course, Phase 4, if all goes well, would be games. And the NHL is still stressing regular season games plus playoff games. That’s kind of what the big picture looks like. In a perfect world.”
TSN’s Darren Dreger added information regarding a potential timeline. “That would be a perfect world, no question about that. But the best-case scenario for some around the league, pie-in-the-sky thinking, if you will for the beginning of Phase 2, is the second or even the third week of May. Best-case scenario would be May 15. And you’re right. They’d bring the players back to their NHL cities and kick into Phase 2, allowing small groups of players to return to their NHL facilities and begin working out, both on and off the ice.
The NHL and NHLPA are currently talking about the restart strategies now, but there are some NHL clubs out there that aren’t nearly as optimistic. And they just don’t see it being safe enough to return, even in isolated conditions, anytime soon. What we know is this. And the commissioner’s office continues to stress this, they can plan, they can strategize, but until the health officials give the clearance, hockey isn’t returning.”
McKenzie provided further detail of the 4-step plan on TSN’s “Overdrive” on Friday. He noted that the League has a shortlist of 12 candidate locations to host the four centralized sites for games:
As we noted yesterday, the New York Post is reporting that at least one NHL team has told its players to be prepared to report on May 15 to begin informal workouts that would precede a training camp of up to three weeks. Not all teams have acted in a similar manner.
Just got word that the NHL camps will begin again June 1… European players are coming back soon #breaking
— John Scott (@johnscott_32) April 24, 2020
The report comes on the heels of news this week that the league has abandoned the idea of playing games at neutral sites and is now looking at completing the 2019-2020 season with games at four NHL sites.
As we reported on Wednesday, numerous NHL teams, including the Washington Capitals, have offered to host centralized games to resume the 2019-20 season. Several other teams in cities where the number of coronavirus cases is slower like the Vegas Golden Knights, Nashville Predators, Arizona Coyotes, and Carolina Hurricanes have all expressed interest in doing so as well, according to The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta.
By Jon Sorensen