On Monday afternoon, Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden spoke to the media on a Zoom call following the group practices from the first day of training camp in Phase 3 of the NHL’s Return to Play Plan. The Capitals are set to play their round-robin opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, August 3 in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Capitals’ bench boss did not believe any players would opt-out, but it’s easier to determine once the deadline passes. As of now, no Capitals players have chosen to opt-out. Reirden noted he will support and respect any player’s decision. The deadline for NHL players to opt-out and notify their club was 5:00 PM ET today.
The 34-player roster is broken up into two squads (Teams Blue and Red) for training camp. Reirden praised the team working hard on the first day of Phase 3. Assistant coaches had pleasing comments about the production of small groups.
Groups were roughly divided by players who have had more of a chance to skate regularly recently (first group) and those who haven’t had much time to skate or coming out of quarantine (second group). This allowed Reirden to modify practice sessions based on players’ skating opportunities.
He called the new safety protocols “odd”, but mentioned how being back on the ice “felt like hockey again.” Coaches and players maintained social distancing with some occasional contact.
Reirden plans to use the first several days of training camp to assess and evaluate players. He’ll get more of an idea for line combinations and defensive pairings within the next two weeks.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 13, 2020
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By Della Young