Boston Hockey Now confirmed with a source late Tuesday evening, that Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and forwards Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand as well as “an array of players” are expected to take part in Phase 2 of the NHL Return and hit the ice Wednesday. Some players have already begun off-ice workouts at the team’s practice facility, Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, MA.
Earlier Tuesday night, Marchand took to the Instagram page of March and Mill Co, the outdoorsman company he and Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller own to confirm he’d be lacing them up Wednesday for Phase 2 of the NHL Return To Play plan.
Phase 2 permits players to begin small group workouts (on and off-ice) in groups no larger than six players at team training camp facilities. Coaches are not allowed on the ice, but there will be a limited number of support staff allowed in the building. Per the guidelines, teams must pay for the returning players to be tested at least twice per week and foot $1500 in living expenses.
The fact that arguably the team’s three biggest leaders in Chara, Bergeron and Marchand will be on the ice Wednesday likely means others are set to follow. No NHL player has skated in a team practice facility since the NHL paused it’s season on March 12 due to the Coronavirus. When the Bruins paused, they were coming off a 2-0 shutout of the then-streaking Philadelphia Flyers on March 10 in Philadelphia. The Bruins were a league-best 44-14-12 and 100 points through 70 games and last week were officially named the 2020 Presidents’ Trophy winners for the best record in the 2019-2020 regular season.
Under the recently approved 24-team NHL Return To Play playoff format, the Bruins will be part of a four-team Eastern Conference round-robin to determine the seeding of the top four teams in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. There will be another four-team round-robin in the Western Conference while the other 16 teams battle it out in play-in rounds.
Before the playoff tournament begins though, Phase 3 (training camp) needs to take place and TSN insiders Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger confirmed Tuesday night that July 10 is still the earliest that can happen. They also reported that the NHLPA will need to sign off on anything going onto Phase 3 and Phase 4 which would be the much-anticipated return to the ice for the playoffs.