The NHL has released a memo to all teams and players, indicating that they will move into “Phase 2” of their return-to-play plan at some point in early June. That phase is made up of small informal workouts that will not include any coaches or support staff and will be limited to six players at any time. All players will be tested for COVID-19 two days before starting the workouts, and will then be tested twice a week thereafter.
This is a huge step towards the return of hockey in North America, though there are some obvious hurdles still to clear. This phase is not mandatory and players are allowed to participate even without returning to their team city. That means those residing in other markets (Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jason Zucker in Minnesota for instance) will still be able to participate without having to travel.
According to Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia, players returning to Canada from the United States will still need to go through the 14-day quarantine period before joining the skates.
It is important to understand that the league has still not set an exact date and could still delay the start of Phase 2 at any point:
Based on the current information available, we are now targeting a date in early June for a transition to Phase 2. However, it has not yet been determined when precisely Phase 2 will start or how long it may last. We are continuing to monitor developments in each of the Club’s markets, and may adjust the overall timing if appropriate, following discussion with all relevant parties.