The Latest Tentative Timeline for the NHL’s Return to Play

According to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, in recent days, multiple return-to-play timelines have started circulating among team executives and player agents that feature many general consistencies about how the next few months could play out:

May 15-31: Informal, small-group skates

June 1-30: Training camps and exhibition play

July 1-Sept. 30: Completion of remaining 189 regular-season games in centralized locations, followed by Stanley Cup playoffs

Off-season (free agency, arbitration, etc.)

Mid-November: Training camps open for 2020-21 season

Mid- to late-December: Regular season begins

According to Johnston, the league is still determining if it will wait until it’s safe and permissible for all 31 teams to start holding small-group workouts before triggering the next phase of its return-to-play protocol, or if it will allow clubs to reopen practice facilities in waves, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Monday.

The New York Post reported last week 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.

This should be viewed as more of a general roadmap than a specific set of instructions with commissioner Gary Bettman already on record about the NHL’s willingness to adjust on the fly depending on the information it receives from leading health experts and governments.

“With a lot of timing options, we have a great deal of flexibility,” Bettman told Ron MacLean last week. “And we’re not going to rush anything. We’re not going to do anything that’s crazy. We’re going to try and do something under the circumstances at the time that is sensible.”

As we reported on Friday, it appears that a plan may finally be emerging with regards to completing the 2019-2020 season, which includes completing the 2019-2020 regular season at four NHL cities.

The NHL is currently in the process of picking four cities to finish the regular season but sports will start out without fans in arenas. According to The Athletic‘s Pierre LeBrun, St. Paul, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Columbus, and Dallas were among the 12 cities being discussed for neutral-site games

On Friday the New York Post reported that Toronto and Columbus are leading contenders to become two of the four host cities. The plan would be for all teams to hold their training camps of up to three weeks at their assigned centralized locations.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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