Despite numerous safety concerns and logistical hurdles that stand in the way of the NHL postseason, the Return to Play continues to proceed on a very reasonable timeline.
The players agreed to the structure of a modified postseason just over two weeks ago, and the reopening of practice facilities (a.k.a. Phase 2) has come and gone essentially without incident. Now, the league has a date for the start of Phase 3: training camp will reportedly begin on July 10.
Teams are currently limited to six players on the ice at a given time, so there will presumably have to be a ramp up period in between now and July 10 so that teams are ready to have a full roster as well as coaches and trainers present for camp.
It is unknown as of yet if all teams will be able to conduct training camp in their home markets. There is speculation that certain Canadian teams will set up shop in the United States to bypass the mandatory quarantine period.
Although the players have agreed to the 24-team postseason format, it is crucial to remember that they have not approved the return to play (Phase 4) itself. Therefore, even though the NHL is on track to begin its postseason in August, there remains the possibility that everything could come undone.
I remain torn on what is best for the league at this point. The prospect of losing a postseason is unpleasant, but the long-term ramifications of this schedule change are also less than ideal.
On to the links ...
- More info from Pierre LeBrun about what the league and the NHLPA have left to negotiate regarding the Return to Play, as well as CBA talk and this year’s paychecks.
- This Day in Sports from the L.A. Times looks back at the Kings’ 2012 Cup run as well as other monumental happenings on June 11.
- Nikolai Prokhorkin’s KHL rights were traded to Metallurg Magnitogorsk. It looks like Prokhorkin could be headed back to Russia after one season in Los Angeles.
- Down Goes Brown gets kooky and creates the best off-brand NHL team. My personal favorite is Alec Ovenden.
- ESPN gave out alternative NHL awards.
- Former King right winger Anson Carter brought together people from around the NHL for a video in response to the killing of George Floyd.