NHL Confirms 26 Players Tested Positive for COVID-19 in June

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2020, file photo, fans pose below the NHL league logo at a display outside Falcon Stadium before an NHL Stadium Series outdoor hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche, at Air Force Academy, Colo. The uncertainty raised by coronavirus pandemic leads to experts providing a bleak short-term assessment on the NHL's financial bottom line, with some projecting revenues being cut by almost half. What's unclear is how large the impact might be until it can be determined when fans can resume attending games and if the league is able to complete this season. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The NHL announced Monday that a total of 26 players tested positive for COVID-19 in the month of June.

The full statement is below:

The NHL is starting the league back up with training camps on July 10. Much like the NBA's plan to only return with 22 teams in action, the NHL will do so with 24. The opening of training camp is the third phase of the league's return to play, with a 24-team tournament being the fourth phase. 

Phases 3 and 4 have not been formally ratified by the league by the NHL and NHLPA, with ESPN's Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski reporting that there have been "two separate, but undeniably related, negotiations going on between the NHL and the players: the return-to-play protocols and an extension of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which is due to expire in September 2022.

The tentative plans are that the 24 teams would return to play in a bubble scenario between two host sites, quarantining away from the general public during that time. 

"Us as players, we realize there's going to be some risk of a positive test, especially in the phases that we're in right now," Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza told Kaplan and Wyshynski. 

"I'm pretty confident that once we get into hub cities, we'll be able to do a good job of keeping it out," he added. "I think getting there is going to be the challenge, and that's where it takes a little bit of discipline for us as players to make sure we don't kind of derail the plans."

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With no firm agreement yet in place for the last two phases, it remains possible the NHL season won't resume. If it does, the hope will be that strict protocols and a quarantined environment will dramatically reduce the chances of more positive coronavirus tests. 

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