Welcome Back Hockey, Training Camp Dates are Set
By Joe Borek
The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to begin Phase 3 (training camps) on July 10th. The dates, announced early Thursday, do not mean that the NHL has determined where they will play when the league resumes. They are still considering all the originally published options and deciding what two cities are best equipped to host the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The option host cities for those who do not know, are Chicago, Columbus, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Dallas, and Vancouver. Of course, for the Canadian teams, the laws about the virus would have to change for them to be potential hub cities. Right now, Canada has a 14-day quarantine rule for anyone entering the country.
Moving on, that 14-day quarantine rule currently in place also affects the Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from safely starting training camps per their country guidelines. These guidelines can, of course, can change by July 10th. However, who knows if they will with how unpredictable the virus has been. Due to the fear of losing time in camp, some Canadian teams have already started exploring having training camps in the United States as per Matt Teague of The Score. This week is when teams were allowed to have players return to facilities that were eligible to return per the guidelines. Players coming back from their home countries will likely have to quarantine for some time before going to a team facility.
Next, it is essential to remember all of this remains contingent on Covid-19 and its rate of spreading as the NHL moves from Phase 2 which is what their in right now allowing six player workouts, to Phase 3 (training camp), then last, Phase 4 (resumption of the season). All the signs are pointing up with the announcement of camps beginning on July 10th. My fellow hockey fanatics out there, this is a beautiful sign as this shapes up to be an incredibly entertaining postseason. Think about it, extra hockey, a great battle in a five-game play-in round to make the actual postseason, then even for the four already guaranteed they get to play a vastly entertaining round robin for seeding. The NHL playoffs are already highly regarded as one of the best postseasons in all of sports. Just ask NBA analyst Charles Barkley. This new entertaining for this season can grab many casual fan’s attention as well to then maybe grow their viewers for next years’ regular season. Either way for one season this format stocks up to be one heck of a grind to win Lord Stanley’s Cup
In conclusion, the NHL is taking the right steps, and it for sure looks like as of now, we are going to have a highly competitive expanded playoff on the near horizon. The exact time frame for how long training camp will last has not yet been determined. Moreover, the precise start of when Phase 4 will be a go is also as of yet to be determined. What we do know is everyone one that is involved with hockey is starting to get those feelings in their veins that cannot be explained. The NHL playoffs are soon, with the likelihood of starting at the beginning of August, and that should have all of us on the edge of our seats as the top postseason in all of sports is almost roaring and ready to go. These about to months or so can not go by soon enough. So last I say to all my hockey crazies out there are you ready for some playoff hockey?