Onto Phase 2!
After the NHLPA voted 29-2 in favor of the 24-team playoff proposal from the Return To Play Committee Friday night, they and the NHL and the players union sent out a memo to teams to start the process of getting Phase 2 of an NHL Return underway. Phase 2 can consist of one or both of the voluntary workouts (limited to six players and no coaches or other personnel) on and off the ice and, government-permitting at each team’s practice facilities hopefully in early June.
“It has not yet been determined when precisely Phase 2 will start or how long it may last,” said the 22-page detailed memo that outlined testing and all safety precautions that will be needed to give the approved playoff tournament a chance. “We are continuing to monitor developments in each of the club’s markets, and may adjust the overall timing if appropriate, following discussion with all relevant parties.”
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 25, 2020
Just a week ago, a well-placed source told Boston Hockey Now that it would be at least four weeks before Boston-area rinks opened up to the public. That would mean that the Bruins’ practice facility, Warrior Arena in Brighton, MA would not be available until at least June 15 under the Massachusetts four-stage reopen. However, the United States recently lifted its Coronavirus travel ban and will allow professional athletes to start returning to their respective team cities. So its likely pro sports teams will now be granted the same exemptions when it comes to their practice facilities.
The memo made it clear that all parties involved will do everything possible to prevent any spread of the Coronavirus but like anything regarding the virus that has killed almost 100,000 Americans isn’t bulletproof.
“It’s very comprehensive … (it) cannot mitigate all risk,” the memo stated. “A range of clinical scenarios exist, from very mild to fatal outcome. COVID-19 generally affects older age groups and those with previously existing medical conditions, more so than younger, and otherwise healthy, individuals. We recognize that players and personnel have family and household members who may fall into these vulnerable categories.”
The memo also explained what is clearly the most important precaution that can be performed, testing for Phase 2 and going forward.
“Players and staff will be administered COVID-19 nasal swab tests two days before training begins, and will be tested twice a week afterwards,” the memo read. “They will also perform daily self-administered temperature and symptom checks at home before heading to their team’s facility. Clubs must also administer a separate temperature and symptom check at the entrance of the club facility. As an over-riding 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.”