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Orioles legend Cal Ripken attends Caps practice, addresses team

Orioles legend Cal Ripken attends Caps practice, addresses team

Arlington, VA—The Caps had a special guest at practice on Tuesday as Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken attended practice and spoke to the team.

"We reached out to Cal and his representative," head coach Barry Trotz said. "I think we're big on trying to learn from some of the best in the game. We've done team building, we've had different speakers in the past from the military to sports figures and obviously, Cal is one of the greatest players in the game, especially in this area."

Trotz explained that the idea of reaching out to Ripken stemmed from the recent loss of many prominent sports figures.

"The theme a little bit this year was the thought that we lost a couple of really great people, sports figures the last year. Not only sports figures, but people who had effect on, I'll say 'on and off the ice' in Muhammad Ali and Gordie Howe in our sport. We were talking this summer, what can we learn from some of the great people in the game, not only our game but from other sports?"

Ripken addressed the team after practice and then took questions from the players.

"There was so many topics," Trotz said. "He talked about everything from dealing with slumps to dealing with different situations. Dealing with careers, dealing with longevity. I don't know if there was anything specific, but he had some great anecdotes and great things from a professional athlete to other professional athletes and to do it as long and articulate it from a different sport to our sport, I think he was really good.

"So the message I think is about professionalism, commitment, dealing with being a professional sport in general. I can't describe it as a coach, you can't describe it as the media even though we try. You have to be a player to know what you're going through on and off the ice or the field or whatever. It was quite enlightening."

MORE CAPITALS: Eller returns to practice

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NHL to move to Phase 2 of return to play plan by June 8

NHL to move to Phase 2 of return to play plan by June 8

The NHL will transition to Phase 2 of its return to play plan, the reopening of team facilities for training activities, on June 8, the league announced Thursday.

Since the season was paused on March 12, the league has considered itself to be in Phase 1 of the plan, meaning self-isolation. While the NHL and NHLPA have made progress off the ice towards a return to play negotiating things such as the playoff format, throughout all those talks the league still remained in Phase 1. This is the first concrete step the NHL has taken towards an eventual return to the ice.

"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)," a statement released by the NHL said. "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."

As the statement notes, participation in Phase 2 activities are voluntary and will be limited to six players at a time. The Capitals have not yet set a date for the team's start of Phase 2.

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Phase 3 of the plan is training camp and, despite Thursday's announcement, we remain far off from that point. According to Pierre LeBrun, the earliest the league would start camps is July 10. Phase 4 is then the resumption of the season.

Presumably, Phase 3 will not start without a date set for when Phase 4. It is hard to believe the NHLPA would agree to an indefinite training camp. Phase 2, however, can begin without any formalized dates for Phases 3 and 4.  So while this is certainly a step towards the return of hockey and a sign that things are improving, all the difficult deciions regarding health and safety protocols as well as a timeline for the eventual 2020 postseason are still yet to be decided.

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Pittsburgh Penguins announce unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19

Pittsburgh Penguins announce unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19

An unnamed player on the Pittsburgh Penguins has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the team announced on Thursday.

"This player is not in Pittsburgh and has been in isolation at home since first experiencing symptoms," the statement said. "He is recovered and feeling well. Those in close contact with the player leading up to the diagnosis have been notified." 

The organization stated that there would be no further updates on the player or situation at this time. 

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The Penguins are one of the 24 teams that will participate in the NHL's new playoff format once the season resumes. As of now, training camp for teams will not begin until July 10 at the earliest and there is still no clear timetable for when games will begin.

This announcement does bring up the question as to what the league will do if a positive diagnosis happens once play starts up again. Though NHL deputy commissioner Billy Daly has stated that he doesn't believe one positive test will halt the entire postseason, a plan will need to be put in place for how to handle a player contracting coronavirus.

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