Phase 2 of the NHL’s ‘return to play’ plan officially begins on Monday. Clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities (off-ice and on-ice). Players will be participating on a voluntary basis and will be scheduled to small groups (i.e., a maximum of six players at any one time, plus a limited number of club staff). So what will next week look like for the Capitals at MedStar Capitals Iceplex?
According to Pierre LeBrun, the Caps expect three to five players to be around for the start of Phase 2. As of Friday, the team wasn’t sure when exactly they would open their practice facility, as they are still working on a few details. But a team source said they would perhaps be ready by later next week.
With Phase 3 training camps not expected to open until mid-July at the earliest – the timetable still needs to be negotiated – many players are going to stay put and skate on their own, rather than come back to their respective NHL teams.
In Pittsburgh “Well over half’’ of the Penguins’ roster is expected to be in town when Phase 2 opens. The team intends to open its practice facility at some point next week.
The Canes say seven players are on hand right now and GM Don Waddell said on Friday the team has decided not to open next week when Phase 2 begins. Once more players are in town, they will open their facility. (And again, most players currently have access to ice for their own skates, so they don’t necessarily need the team’s facility yet).
The Rangers, as of Friday, expected six to seven players on hand when Phase 2 opened. They planned to have their facility opened on Tuesday.
As of Friday morning, the Blue Jackets hadn’t decided yet when exactly they would open their practice facility for players to skate but it was likely not going to be by the opening of Phase 2 on Monday, according to GM Jarmo Kekalainen. The Jackets expect around 10 players in town when Phase 2 opens.
Capitals players who have remained in the area and are anticipated to be the first return to MedStar include Braden Holtby, John Carlson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller. TJ Oshie is also likely to participate soon, but is currently on vacation in Williamsburg, Va. Alex Ovechkin is still in Florida following the birth of his second son, Ilya. It’s likely that more players will report in the latter half of June.
Capitals players currently not in the area: Tom Wilson (Toronto), Nic Dowd (Minnesota’s), Nick Jensen (Minisota), Dmitry Orlov (Russia), Nicklaus Backstrom (Sweden), Ilya Samsonov (Russia), Jakub Vrana (Czech Republic), Michal Kempny (Czech Republic), Radko Gudas (Czech Republic), Ilya Kovulchuk (Los Angeles), Brenden Dillon (San Francisco), Jonas Siegenthaler (Switzerland), Richard Panik (Czech Republic), Garnet Hathaway (New York).
Practice and workout sessions remain closed to the general public. For the latest on general public access to MedStar Capitals Iceplex, please visit their website.
By Jon Sorensen