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PIKE LAKE … After agreeing to a basic framework for a Stanley Cup Tournament to conclude the most unusual NHL season in my lifetime, the league and the NHLPA have reached an agreement regarding the protocols to be put in place for a return to practice, leading up to the tourney which it now appears will commence in late July.
The most recent detail to be worked out by the two parties was an agreement that all series will be in a best of seven format, per usual NHL procedures.
All teams were allowed to open their practice facilities on Monday, June 8, with strict testing and sanitation procedures in place.
Upon opening, practices will be voluntary and geared to individualized training activities. That applies to on and off ice. Workouts and practices will be of no more than six players at a time. There will be limited staff involved, and any local or state mandates and rules will supercede the NHL’s plans, which will be known as Phase 2.
The opening of training camps will be phase 3 and this will commence on or around July 10.
Phase 4 will be the start of the qualifying round for the Cup tourney, and the official start date will be finalized in the very near future. Before any player or staff member can do anything relative to their work as a player or staff member, they must undergo a 14 day quarantine.
Some players have stayed in their teams home city while others found ways to return to their off-season homes and locales. It is believed that these players will begin to reassemble back in their team locations beginning on the 8th.
The actual date for a team to declare that their practice facilities are ready and open is up to each individual club, and they can’t open until they have checked each box on the leagues preparation and readiness list.
No teams believe all of their players will be at their facilities on the same day, thinking the players will filter in as they feel ready to go.
Additionally, whether in a facility for a workout or skating session, players and staff will only be allowed to be at that facility for a specific amount of time per day.
I feel that with it being summer I’m not certain what kind of viewership the tourney will receive. The diehards such as myself will be locked on to it per usual, but I’m not sure how casual fans will adapt to this.
My favorites are still Tampa from the East and Colorado from the West.
As a hockey maniac I can’t wait for this to start.
As for the local Minnesota Wild, I’m not quite sure how to handicap their chances. They drew Vancouver for the opening round, and I think they could have a better than even chance of winning that series given all of the data and circumstances.
Beyond that, it will be a roll of the dice.
And for any “older” more veteran rosters that will be coming in cold after an almost five-month layoff, make it a double roll. Either way I can’t wait!
It will be excellent to see the greatest league in the world back at it… PEACE