The Colorado Avalanche are about to enter Phase 2 of the COVID-19 response. Here’s what it can look like.
The Colorado Avalanche will enter Phase 2 of the NHL’s response to the COVID-19 crisis tomorrow. That is, they have the green light to do so.
Phase 2 is actually the first step of Return to Play. It marks the first time since March 12 that NHL teams have been allowed to open up their facilities to players. Players spent the vast majority of the season pause unable to access ice to skate. It’s only been in the last couple weeks, as some areas opened up, that players have been able to buy ice time at private facilities.
Starting tomorrow, players of the 24 teams still live for the 2019-20 season should have access to NHL facilities. They’ll be allowed to participate with their teams in small, informal skates. They’ll also be allowed to train in the weight room.
The NHL, in agreement with the NHLPA, set forth 22 pages’ worth of guidelines. Here are the main parts.
While the guidelines themselves are pretty straightforward, a lot of gray area is around the actual implementation. For one, many players left their team city for their home cities. That fact is tricky for those who went to Europe because of travel restrictions.
Even though many players, especially concerning the Avalanche, only went to Canada or another state, you do have the question of how many are in town to take advantage of the newly-opened team facilities. Well, according to Pierre LeBrun at The Athletic, the team reckons only six or seven players stayed in Colorado.
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Anyway, the LeBrun article reported that the team didn’t know when the informal skates would start. However, Avs insider Adrian Dater has since reported that the team plans to start Phase 2 later in the week. A lot of teams with players outside the team city have taken that approach.
The teams can’t start their training camps until July 10 at the earliest, so players still have time to get their skating legs back. It could be that some players, especially those abroad, prefer to stay in their home cities and pay for ice time.
The only aspect of that situation that gets tricky is quarantine. Right now, the Unites States has lifted quarantine restrictions for players returning from Canada. Canada has not reciprocated. So, any player returning from abroad, including the US, must quarantine for 14 days.
If any player uses public transportation, instead of a charter flight, they must quarantine per the Phase 2 guidelines. They may also be asked to quarantine if returning from a high-risk environment.
Players who are in an NHL city but not playing for that team may be able to use those NHL facilities anyway. They can request access, and the club must provide it if the time doesn’t conflict with their own team activities.
Media and fans will not be allowed in the team facilities while the players are engaged in their informal practices — not exactly surprising. I’m not sure if that restriction applies to the team’s own media. The memo states that “club hockey operations personnel” and “club business staff” may access the facilities as long as they don’t touch anything player access personnel or the players themselves may touch. I’m not sure the Avs’ media falls under that jurisdiction.
They may just fall under media. So we may not get any news from the team still.
Nonetheless, Colorado Avalanche hockey is getting closer and closer. I’m excited the players will get access to the facilities they need.