NHL to open Phase 3 of Return To Play initiative on July 10

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By WGR 550 SportsRadio
The National Hockey League has taken another big step in its Return To Play initiative as the league and the NHL Players' Association have agreed to open Phase 3 of the plan on Friday, July 10.

NHL, NHLPA agree on opening date for formal training camps. https://t.co/35lF9nEob0 pic.twitter.com/l6W4VLXVYv

— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 11, 2020

Phase 3 of the NHL's Return To Play initiative is the official opening of formal training camps for the 24 teams competing in the qualifying round and seeding round-robin tournament for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs later this summer. This is, of course, at the discretion of medical and local officials determining that the conditions are safe enough to allow the resumption of play.

Phase 2 of the league's Return To Play initiative was officially set in motion on Monday, where players could begin returning to their home cities to take part in voluntary, individualized on- and off-ice workouts in groups of six players.

The length of Phase 3 and how long training camp will last has yet to be determined, and the NHL and the NHLPA are still in negotiations about the start date for Phase 4 (formal resumption of play) of the Return To Play plan.

However, according to David Pagnotta from The Fourth Period, it is expected that training camps will run at least 2-3 weeks. The players may lean towards a two-week period of training camp if they feel the time working out on and off the ice during Phase 2 would cut that third week of camp. Once training camps have wrapped up, the 24 teams will then travel to their designated hub city, continue to practice, and then take part in two exhibition games before Phase 4 officially commences.

Length of training camps, which the NHLPA will agree to, is still expected to be 2-3 weeks. Players may lean to 2-weeks if they feel working out on & off ice during Phase 2 would negate an extra week of camp. 1/2

— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) June 11, 2020

Upon completion of camps in individual cities, team would go to hub cities, continue to practice, and play 2 exhibition games each. Once that concludes, Phase 4 will commence and games will officially begin. More in link below. 2/2 https://t.co/ojjqNXDGeB

— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) June 11, 2020

However, Phase 3 of the plan could have a bit of a snag for the six Canadian teams involved in the 24-team format.

Multiple reports are indicating that teams like the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets could look to hold their training camps in the United States with the 14-day quarantine period that the Canadian government requires for anyone entering the country. However, talks are ongoing between the NHL and the Canadian government, and according to NHL insider John Shannon, border closures are not an going to be an issue. If that happens to be the case, Shannon believes that there will be a resolution to the matter before training camps open.

NHL remains in constant touch with Canadian government on quarantine issues and border closure. Source suggests “Border closures are not an issue”, which leads you to believe there will be a resolution before camps open.

— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) June 11, 2020

Keep it locked to WGR and WGR550.com for the latest on this developing story.