The NHL and NHLPA released a statement on Wednesday night regarding the status of the paused 2019-20 NHL season. The league has not played games since March 11th due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has swept the globe.
“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 release stated. “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.”
Earlier today, reports had Phase 2 occurring in mid-to-later May. June training camps would follow. Eventually, the league would return to play in July, completing the regular season.
“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 release continued. “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.”
“Obviously the safety aspect is the most important,” Anders Bjork said via Zoom today when asked about this possibility. “We’ll see, but safety is the number one goal and I think all the organizations know that. So, we’ll see. I guess I’ll be open to anything.”
Nothing concrete plans were announced.
“Specific guidelines governing Player and Hockey Staff activity would be provided at that time,” the statement read. “In the meantime, we expect Players and Hockey Staff to continue to adhere to the recommended guidelines. Those were put in place when the season was paused on March 12.”
The ‘Return to Play Committee’ will continue to meet regularly.