Tuesday's announcement of the NHL's return to play plan was a step in the right direction towards resuming the 2019-20 season, but we are still a long way off from that point. According to a report from TSN's Pierre LeBrun, NHL training camps will not start before July 10.
That does not mean July 10 is now the set return date, it simply means training camps will not begin before then.
So NHL training camps won't start before July 10, although that doesn't mean they will start on July 10 necessarily. Just that they won't open before July 10. Inch by inch, people, inch by inch...— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 28, 2020
The NHL has organized its return to play plan into four phases. Opening training camps is considered Phase 3 of that plan. The league is still in Phase 1, which is self-isolation.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday he was hopeful Phase 2, players returning to team facilities for voluntary activities, could begin in late June. Even if that were the case, an early July return for training camps would have been ambitious. Given that, the report that camps would not be able to return until at least mid-July should come as no surprise.
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As for how this will affect the 2020-21 season, the NHL has been adamant that it intends to hold a full 82-game season, even if it means pushing the start back into December and cutting out both the All-Star game and bye weeks. For now, there is no reason to think that plan will change based on LeBrun's report.
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