The National Hockey League has moved one step closer to resuming and finishing its season.
The NHL and NHL Players Association announced Thursday that team training camps will open Friday, July 10 for the 24 teams involved in the league's Return to Play format. The NHL and NHLPA stressed that the date was contingent on medical and safety conditions, given concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
Still to be decided: the length of training camps and the official starting date for Phase 4 of the restart, in which the 24 teams will compete to determine the 2020 Stanley Cup champion.
Carolina Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell has said training camps might run for about 17 days. Waddell said he expected teams to be allowed one or two exhibition games before the start of the eight qualifying round series.
The NHL and NHLPA still have other logistical issues to agree on and resolve. The NHL has not designated the two "hub" cities that will host the competition. There are still agreements to be reached by the NHL and NHLPA on COVID-19 testing, housing, transportation and how much contact players will have with their families during the competition.
The 24-team format will have the top four teams in each of the the Eastern and Western Conferences facing off in round-robin competition to determine the top four seeds in each conference. The other 16 teams will have best-of-five qualifying rounds, with the eight winners joining the eight top seeds in the 16-team Stanley Cup field.
The Hurricanes will face off against the New York Rangers -- a team that won all four games against Carolina before the 2019-20 season was suspended March 12 -- in the qualifying round.
The NHL and NHLPA are allowing players to use their team training facilities for voluntary, small-group workouts. On-ice training sessions are limited to no more than six players.
The Canes are hoping their new practice facility at the Wake Competition Center in Morrisville will be open for the beginning of training camp.
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