By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
In just the first week of their Phase 2 plan, the National Hockey League and NHLPA have set a date for Phase 3 of their four-phase return plan to crown a 2020 Stanley Cup champion.
In a joint statement released on Thursday, the NHL and NHLPA confirmed that that formal training camps (Phase 3) for the 24 teams resuming play will open on Friday, July 10.
Per the statement, that date will go on as scheduled provided that medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement on resuming play. As a result, the length of training camp and the start date for formal resumption of play (Phase 4) will be determined at a future date.
It's encouraging news, but there's also still a ton of issues the sides still need to work through before everything becomes real.
For one, the NHL is still looking at their hub city options. The league has a list of their own, and Las Vegas feels like an inevitability, really, especially with the NBA deciding to move their entire operation to Orlando. But the second city remains unknown. It's believed that Columbus is the favorite for the East-based city (should the NHL want to have both sides of North America represented), but Edmonton has been making a strong push to be a hub city.
The league will also have to hammer out the details of the lodging, testing, and everything in between for their players before this entire plan can take shape, as the statement noted. It's almost fair to assume that players will not be allowed to bring their families to the hub cities until the playoff field is sliced in half (maybe even later, really).
For now, the NHL will remain focused on getting through Phase 2, which has seen teams and players return to team facilities for voluntary, small-group workouts, without any issues.