The NHL sent a memo to its teams on Wednesday stating that it hopes to move ahead to “Phase 2” and begin opening team facilities for small group workouts in mid-to-late May, the NHL said in a statement.
“While the precise date…remains tentative and as yet undetermined, we do feel that we may be able—provided we continue to trend favorably—to move to ‘Phase 2’ at some point in the mid-to-later portion of May,” the league wrote.
Like the NBA, each NHL team is facing different local government restrictions, though travel could be especially difficult for professional hockey. The U.S.—Canada border remains closed amid the coronavirus pandemic and players currently at home in Europe may not be able to travel until June, at the earliest, per TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
The NBA announced earlier this week that it is targeting May 8 as the earliest date for opening practice facilities in areas where stay-at-home orders have been eased.
In early April, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there was “there’s too much uncertainty” surrounding the league’s situation to make predictions about when games would return.
He added that while the “best thing, and the easiest thing” would be to complete the regular season and playoffs as usual, the league is currently looking at a number of different ways to finish the season.
The Stanley Cup playoffs were initially scheduled to begin on April 8.
Throughout the global health crisis, the NHL has decided not to mass test its players.
“We said, very definitively, that our medical experts, including governing health authorities, aren’t recommending mass testing—in part because the resources aren’t available, in part because it’s of limited utility at this point,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Sports Illustrated‘s Alex Prewitt.
Daly told Sports Illustrated that the NHL does, however, keep a “master list” of tests obtained by anyone “associated with the league or our clubs,” players included. Teams are also asked to alert the league if any staffer becomes symptomatic.
The scouting combine and NHL draft, originally scheduled for June 1–6 and June 26–27, respectively, have also been postponed.