As we all wait to see the Orange and Black return to the ice, the NHL announces “Phase 2” of its return. The NHL has targeted this Monday as the start of Phase 2 in its plan to resume and finish the season.
Phase 2 permits players to return to team practice facilities for voluntary small-group individualized training activities, whether it be on or off the ice.
According to Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher, the team is reopening the training facility. Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone will be open June 8th for voluntary on and off ice workouts. There will be approximately 6 players initially with others to join in the coming weeks.
The next phases are in place but are still not set. Phase 3 which includes mandatory team training camps won’t happen until at least July 10. What does that mean for the return of hockey? Phase 4 can occur at the earliest late July or the beginning of August.
Things Looking Up for the Flyers Return
On Thursday the NHL announced further details on the 24-team format, which could benefit fourth-seeded Philly. It will consist of reseeding after every round instead of a bracket style orginally mentioned. Each round will feature best-of-seven series following the best-of-five qualifying round.
As the fourth seed in the round-robin tournament, they can only improve their standing. The Flyers have a chance to climb be No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and can’t fall any lower than their current spot.
The reseeding vs bracket option makes the 1st seed even more exciting. As an example, if the 12th-seeded Canadiens upset the fifth-seeded Penguins, the top seed will face Montreal. If the bracket style stayed in place, the fourth-seed would have been facing the lowest-seeded Canadiens, while the No. 1 seed would face a No. 8 or No. 9 seed.
No matter what Philly is getting their bye and fighting for the No. 1 seed means better match up options. If the Flyers do well in the round-robin tournament, they move up in the standings. If they are rusty out of the gate, they do not drop any farther. Nothing to lose.
We know if the bracket option remained there would be a ton drama throughout hockey fans (mainly Pittsburg and Boston fans). I believe the team that survives will be the winner of the toughest tour to the Cup. You will have most players returning healthy in neutral sites without a crowd. No fans mean no home-ice advantage. The players will be 5 months removed from any NHL action and have to battle to be the best. Purely player versus player.
Statement from the League
Beginning June 8 — subject to each club’s satisfaction of all of the requirements set out in the Phase 2 Protocol — clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities (off-ice and on-ice). Players will be participating on a voluntary basis and will be scheduled to small groups (i.e., a maximum of six players at any one time, plus a limited number of club staff). The various measures set out in the Phase 2 protocol are intended to provide players with a safe and controlled environment in which to resume their conditioning. Phase 2 is not a substitute for training camp.
All necessary preparations for Phase 2, including those that require player participation (education, diagnostic testing, scheduling for medicals, etc.), can begin immediately. The NHL and the NHLPA continue to negotiate over an agreement on the resumption of play.Official Statement from the NHL
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