NHL Eyes Letting Players Return To “Small Group Activities” In 2-4 Weeks

Buffalo's Jack Eichel, left, and Edmonton's Conor McDavid battle for a puck. AP/Shutterstock

It’s been seven long weeks since the NHL iced its regular season amid the coronavirus outbreak, and now the it’s looking to ease back into action. The league said today that, if “conditions continue to trend favorably,” players might be able to return to their teams “in the mid-to-later portion of May.”

The Return to Play Committee, made up of league officials and the NHL Players’ Association, met today to discuss the next steps toward resuming the 2019-20 season. The verdict? There’s nothing concrete, but there is some hope.

“Despite numerous reports and speculation over the last several days, the NHL and the NHLPA have not made any decisions or set a timeline for possible return to play scenarios,” the league said as part of a statement today. (Read it in full below.)

But hockey appears to be on the horizon. The NHL said it is “looking ahead to a Phase 2 of the transition period,” which would be enacted when the recommended Phase 1 period of self-quarantine of players and staff is complete.

“The precise date of transition to Phase 2, during which Players might return to small group activities in NHL Club training facilities, remains undetermined,” the league said. “However, provided that conditions continue to trend favorably – and, subject to potential competitive concerns as between disparately situated markets – we believe we may be able to move to Phase 2 at some point in the mid-to-later portion of May.”

Exactly when that would translate to pucks being dropped for real remains unclear, but there appears to be a goal light at the end of the tunnel.

The NHL noted that its Return to Play Committee will continue to meet quarterly.

Here is the league’s full statement:

Despite numerous reports and speculation over the last several days, the NHL and the NHLPA have not made any decisions or set a timeline for possible return to play scenarios.

Given recent developments in some NHL Clubs’ local communities, we are now looking ahead to a Phase 2 of the transition period that would follow the currently recommended Phase 1 period of “self-quarantine” by Players and Hockey Staff.

The precise date of transition to Phase 2, during which Players might return to small group activities in NHL Club training facilities, remains undetermined. However, provided that conditions continue to trend favorably – and, subject to potential competitive concerns as between disparately situated markets – we believe we may be able to move to Phase 2 at some point in the mid-to-later portion of May. Specific guidelines governing Player and Hockey Staff activity would be provided at that time. In the meantime, we expect Players and Hockey Staff to continue to adhere to the recommended guidelines put in place when the season was paused on March 12.

The Return to Play Committee will continue to meet regularly.

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2020/04/nhl-possible-return-in-may-coronavirus-break-1202921681/