The start date for Phase 4, the formal resumption of play, will be determined at a later date. It is expected that players need about three weeks of training camp plus exhibition games to be prepared for games that count.
The NHL and NHL Players Association already have agreed on a modified playoff format — which includes two hub cities that would house 12 teams each — though both sides need to negotiate the details on safety and other protocols.
In the meantime, more players will be headed back to their respective home facilities in the coming weeks in preparation for training camps. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last month that 17 percent of the league’s players were overseas, and there may be some obstacles regarding travel restrictions.
For the Capitals, only four players are in the Washington area: defenseman John Carlson, goaltender Braden Holtby and centers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller. All skated at MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Thursday, the first day they were allowed to do so after the Capitals decided they were not ready to open the facility earlier in the week when Phase 2 of the NHL’s plan began. Players living in other NHL cities are allowed to skate at other teams’ facilities with permission.
On Friday, Northern Virginia will enter Phase 2 of the state’s coronavirus recovery plan, which allows places such as MedStar Capitals Iceplex to open to the public with restrictions. It is not clear, however, when the public will be allowed back into the facility.
People around the NHL have continued to stay cautiously optimistic about the resumption of the season, which was paused March 12. Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan acknowledged in late May that the team was trying to balance the excitement of playing games with the reality of how the sport could move forward with the virus still present.
Read more from The Post: