Detroit — The NHL is taking another step closer to putting its product back on the ice.
The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association announced Thursday they’ve agreed to open training camps July 10.
That date comes with the stipulation that concerns about the coronavirus pandemic continue to ease, and it’s safe enough to hold training camp.
But the date is otherwise set, so it’s another step closer to resuming the suspended NHL season, which was stopped on March 12 to virus fears.
“The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that formal training camps (Phase 3) for the 24 teams resuming play will open on Friday, July 10," read a statement from the NHL and NHLPA, "provided that medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement on resuming play. The length of training camp and, therefore, the start date for formal resumption of play (Phase 4) will be determined at a future date.”
Generally speaking, using the July 10 training camp date, most analysts feel that would put a potential re-start to the season somewhere in the early-to-middle August range.
The NHL will resume its season featuring a 24-team playoff tournament — although the date, the hub cities for the tournament, and for that matter, the length of training camp, all have yet to be decided.
There are expected to be two "hub" cities, but not necessarily one each from each conference. Toronto, Columbus, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Edmonton and Vancouver are leading contenders.
Games will take place with no fans in the stands, although there's hope — however slim it is — of possibly having a limited number of fans for the championship round.
The Red Wings, and six other teams that didn’t qualify for the playoff resumption, have officially seen their 2019-20 seasons end.
The NHL’s Phase 2 began this week, with teams having the ability to open practice facilities for voluntary workouts of up to six players. Players are continuing to trickle back to their team cities, with players returning from Europe expected to be the last hurdle.
Many of the 24 teams have gradually begun to open their facilities.