The NHL announced that the league will enter the second stage of its return-to-play plan on Monday amid its attempt to resume the 2019-20 season, which has been suspended since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A league press release stated the following:
"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."
The NHL is currently in the midst of a four-stage protocol to return to the ice.
Per James O'Brien of NBC Sports, the third phase consists of formal NHL training camps beginning no earlier than the first half of July.
The fourth stage involves holding a 24-team playoff in two hub cities to conclude the 2019-20 season. Sixteen teams would compete in a best-of-five qualifying round. The winners would then join a standard 16-team playoff tournament with best-of-seven series and reseeding throughout.
The top four teams in each conference would play in a round-robin during the qualifying rounds in order to determine the final four East and West seeds.
The Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers are set to battle in the Eastern Conference round-robin. The St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars will do the same in the West.
The league also needs to decide which cities will host the remaining games. Per O'Brien, the NHL has narrowed down its list of hub city candidates to 10: seven American cities and three Canadian cities. All of the possible locations are homes to NHL teams.
Per Sean Leahy of NBC Sports, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman gave an update on that front on the Ray & Dregs podcast on May 28: "I'm going to probably have to make a decision collectively on this probably in three weeks. I think in two weeks we'll start narrowing down further. Somewhere around three weeks we're going to have to pull the trigger and finalize the arrangements and make the deposits."
The list includes Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Edmonton, Alberta; Las Vegas, Nevada; Los Angeles, California; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Toronto, Ontario, and Vancouver, British Columbia.