The NHL today announced it will transition to Phase 2 of it’s ‘Return To Play Plan’, meaning Boston Bruins players can return to the ice.
In a press release, the NHL has stated that ‘subject to each Club’s satisfaction of all requirements set out in the Phase 2 Protocol – Clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities. Boston Bruins players, like all across the league will return on a voluntary basis.
That is possibly the important fact in this matter; the players have some degree of choice. Given the Pittsburgh Penguins have reported a coronavirus case among their ranks and Tampa Bay’s Anton Stralman reportedly intends to stay home due to other health concerns, it’s only reasonable.
Any practice occurring can only be undertaken in small groups of just six players and a limited number of staff. Realistically, this means they’ll likely be seeing plenty of forward group versus defensive group drills. Such a small number really limits what they can do.
More immediately, it will also see players needing to travel from their various home bases as the team can only open a training facility hosted in it’s home city.
Boston Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara has traveled back from his second base in Florida in recent weeks and we will no doubt slowly see other guys heading back to Boston. Obviously, that’s a lot easier for the likes of Chris Wagner and Charlie Coyle too as home state boys!
The NHL goes to great odds to point out that ‘Phase 2 is not a substitute for training camp’. That alone makes you believe that the NHL is doing the absolute utmost it can to put on a high-level product when games actually are resumed. Training camps are likely over a month away.
The closing line in their press release highlights that resumption of play still hasn’t been locked in with the statement; ‘the NHL and the NHLPA continue to negotiate over an agreement on the resumption of play.’
Boston Bruins fans can be rightfully excited that the team is headed back to Boston and is slowly getting ready to compete in the toughest Stanley Cup Playoffs year they’ve ever faced.
However, until we have a date locked in, it’s still hard to take this latest with more than a grain of salt. It doesn’t quite represent hockey returning. Yet.