(Reuters) – The National Hockey League said on Wednesday it hopes to reopen training facilities to players by mid-to-late May as long as local restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic allow for a return to small group activities.
The NHL suspended play in mid-March as part of efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus with three weeks and 189 games left in its regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs scheduled to end in June.
Given recent developments in some team’s local communities, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association said they are looking ahead to a new phase that would follow the currently recommended period of “self-quarantine”.
“The precise date of transition to Phase 2, during which players might return to small group activities in NHL club training facilities, remains undetermined,” the league and union said in a joint statement.
“However, provided that conditions continue to trend favorably – and, subject to potential competitive concerns as between disparately situated markets – we believe we may be able to move to Phase 2 at some point in the mid-to-later portion of May.”
The league and players’ union also said they have not made any decisions or set a timeline for a possible return to play.
The NHL has had a number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus among its 31 teams, which are spread across the United States and Canada.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Edwina Gibbs