The NHL continues to discuss the possibility of returning to play the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs sometime this summer, most recently discussing a 24 team playoff that would eliminate the need for playing what remained of the 2019-20 regular season.

The league’s “Return To Play” committee met on Tuesday to discuss the latest. This discussion, according to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, included a timetable for when “Phase 2” might begin.

Phase 2 of the NHL’s reopening plan is an important step, as it allows players to return to team training facilities and begin working out and skating as a team. It’s a precursor to training camp, which will be essential in getting players and teams back up to speed in time for a playoff run.

In LeBrun’s conversation with Bill Daly, the NHL’s Deputy Commissioner and ranking member of the “Return To Play” committee, it seems as if the league is planning to move to Phase 2 “at some point over the next month.”

This could mean a return to training camp for players by sometime in late May or early June. Following that, the league could be ready to return to on-ice action in another month after that, sometime in July.

Though Daly made it clear that no actual timetable had been set, citing the ever changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, he did not hesitate to say the league is pushing as hard as ever to ensure the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs are played.

“I think we’re moving toward some ideas that hopefully have some traction,” Daly told The Athletic. “And again, we want to get to what the resumption-of-play scenario looks like sooner rather than later. We still have some work to do… we’ll get there. It’s been a good process.”

Daly provided more insight on where the league stands regarding other matters, including:

  • A 24-team playoff scenario is still a possibility, though it is no more likely than any other playoff scenario. LeBrun mentioned that a 20-team playoff could also be in play.
  • As of now, the league is still planning to host the NHL Draft in June, though there seems to be more push back on that idea lately.
  • COVID-19 testing remains the biggest concern for returning to play. The league will ensure that all players can be tested before playing any hockey again.
  • The league is still looking into neutral sites to host games, if all NHL cities cannot return to play at the same time.

— Featured image via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports —
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