The NHL announced a plan to enter Phase 2 of its return to play protocols on Monday, with hopes of taking this step by early June. If you enjoy staggeringly detailed documents, then this is your tonic.
To clarify, Phase 1 involved players and others entering self-quarantine. Phase 2 involves small groups of players (the league specifies six players, with a limited number of staff) returning to team facilities for noncontact skating sessions.
The league didn’t detail exactly when Phase 2 will begin (again, the goal is “early June”). Early June indicates that the NHL could theoretically begin Phase 2 as early as next week, though.
It’s not clear how long Phase 2 might last for the NHL, either. As detailed as the league’s plan is, there’s still an air of “to be determined.” The NHL didn’t publicly announce dates for Phase 3 (training camp) or Phase 4 (a return to play) in the memo.
Depending upon how a player arrives at team facilities, it might be necessary to go into 14-day quarantine before entering team facilities. The NHL’s testing guidelines get a bit granular, so Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston shares some details that simplify and clarify certain aspects:
Of note: Players and team staff will be given a COVID-19 nasal swab test two days before starting Phase 2 training, and then will be tested at least twice per week afterwards. They must also self-administer a temperature and symptom check every day.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 25, 2020
The memo also shares how players from other teams can access facilities if they live nearby.
The NHL emphasizes more than once in the Phase 2 memo that safety and fairness are top priorities. The league also includes this explanation around testing:
As an overriding principle, testing of asymptomatic Players and Club personnel must be done in the context of excess testing capacity, so as to not deprive health care workers, vulnerable populations and symptomatic
individuals from necessary diagnostic tests (“Publicly Necessary Testing”).
Again, there are still plenty of other details to iron out before taking the next steps. Consider some of the major issues still dangling:
So, we’ll see how a lot of this goes. Stay tuned at PHT as more develops.