The NHL’s ambitious return-to-play plans took a big hit on Friday. Auston Matthews, one of the league’s biggest stars, reportedly tested positive for coronavirus while the Tampa Bay Lightning had to close their practice facility after five players and staff contracted COVID-19. Later that night, the NHL, in a release, announced 11 players had the virus while trying to participate in Phase 2 small group workouts. Positive cases in the United States continue to grow as Florida and other US states are setting new daily records.
That would explain why there was some immediate skepticism when Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported that the NHL will expand Phase 2 groups to have 12 players on Tuesday, up from six.
Effective tomorrow, the NHL will allow Phase 2 groups to be expanded to 12 players for on-ice sessions. Those had been limited to six skaters apiece since small-group workouts began in team facilities on June 8.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 22, 2020
Steven Stamkos retweeted Johnston’s report with a thinking face emoji as if to say, this is all getting very illogical.
— Steven Stamkos (@RealStamkos91) June 22, 2020
As of now, NHL training camps are tentatively scheduled to open on July 10 while the 24-team playoff is set to begin on July 30.
But at this point, it sure looks like the boys want to get out of town.
— Alex Killorn (@Akillorn19) May 28, 2020
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