NHL tells players Phase 3 of return-to-play plan won’t start before July 10

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice speaks to his players during practice for the NHL Heritage Classic outdoor hockey game in Regina (Liam Richards/CP)

The NHL informed its players on Thursday that Phase 3 of the league’s return-to-play plan, which includes training camps, will not start before July 10, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

On Tuesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman outlined the league’s plan to return to play, detailing its four phases.

Initially, the NHL said it didn’t expect Phase 3 would happen earlier than the first half of July, and would begin only once medical and civil authorities deemed it was safe to do so.

The NHL hopes to move into Phase 2 of its return-to-play policy, which allows for small group workouts, as early as next week. The league is still in Phase 1 of its return-to-play policy as players remain under league-mandated quarantine.

Once given permission from medical experts and the relevant government authorities, the NHL will return to play in a 24-team playoff system. The top four teams in each conference — based on each team’s points percentage as of March 11 when the season was paused — will claim an automatic berth into the first round of playoffs and will participate in a three-game intra-conference round robin to determine Round 1 seeding.

The remaining eight teams in each conference will play a best-of-five “qualifying round” series to determine which teams advance to the first round of the playoffs.


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