The New York Islanders can open training camp in a month.
Phase 2 of the NHL’s return to play plan was activated just this past Monday. Groups of New York Islanders players were able to skate together for the first time since the 2019-20 NHL season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin, and Thomas Greiss were the first group to hit the ice while Scott Mayfield, Devon Toews, and Christopher Gibson made up the second group. As per Phase 2 protocols, groups of players could not exceed six and could not include any team staff.
On Thursday, the NHL and NHLPA announced that
. Phase 3 of the NHL’s return to play plan is formal training camp. The final step before games are actually played.
The Next Step
An NHL release on Thursday indicated both the league and the players union (NHLPA) agree that training camps league-wide can open on July 10.
The fact that the NHL and NHLPA set a firm date for Phase 3 so quickly after opening Phase 2 is an encouraging sign that this season will actually take place. Of course, there are still a number of hurdles to clear before a puck is dropped, but the return of hockey is closer to certainty than concept.
In a month from now, the Islanders and the other 23 teams that will compete for the 2020 Stanley Cup will be opening their training camp. Roster sizes still haven’t been agreed yet, but they’re likely to swell from 23 to about 30 players.
For the Islanders, training camp will be a chance to get back to their fundamentals, back to their identity. With injuries to key players for long periods of the 19-20 season, the Islanders strayed from what made them successful lin 2018-19 and through the first half of the season.
With everyone 100 percent healthy for training camp, Barry Trotz will have the chance to get the full squad re-focused on the Islanders way to play hockey. It will also give acquisitions like Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Andy Greene weeks to sort out their place and roll in the Isles system.
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It’s still a month away, but hockey is almost here. Get stoked.