NHL announces camps to open July 10 as league moves closer to return

FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2019, file photo, New Jersey Devils right wing Kurtis Gabriel works out prior to an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres in Newark, N.J. The NHL is hoping to move to Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol, including the opening of practice facilities and allowing small group workouts, early next month. The league, which was forced to pause its season on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, released a 22-page memo detailing the plan Monday, May 25, 2020. The document stresses there's no exact date for the start of Phase 2 or a timetable for how long it will last. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) (Julio Cortez, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The NHL and NHLPA announced Thursday that formal training camps for the 24 teams resuming play will open on Friday, July 10.

The league calls this its “Phase 3” of return-to-play plan. The 2019-20 season was paused in March as the coronavirus pandemic hit North America. In May, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the regular season was officially over but the playoffs will continue with 24 teams.

The plan is to return to play in phases. Phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play protocol included opening practice rinks and allowing small, voluntary group workouts on and off the ice. That started this week.

Now, Phase 3 has a date for starting July 10 “provided that medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement on resuming play,” according to the league.

The length of training camp and, therefore, the start date for formal resumption of play (Phase 4) will be determined at a future date, the NHL says.

Phase 4 will mean games without fans in the stands.