NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was a guest on the “Today Show” on Wednesday morning and made it clear that players like New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist and Mika Zibanejad will need to be quarantined when they come back to the United States.
The NHL has been on pause since Mar. 12 but with yesterday’s announcement hockey is getting closer to returning. Rangers players that are outside of the United States will need to come back to New York once the NHL begins phase three of the Return to Play format.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 27, 2020
Bettman broke down where players have been staying since the pause went into effect some three months ago,
“We have about 44% of the of our players are in the cities in which they play, and 83% of our players are in North America, but you’re right 17% of our players are coming from outside of North America, they’re going to have to come back, they’re going to have to self isolate they’re going to be tested. We’re going to have to make sure they’re symptom-free, which is again why we’re doing this and steps, we can use the individual training phase, phase two, as we call it, to do that and get everybody back together as a community but once we go into training camp mode. There will be lots of testing not quite as much as when we’re actually playing in phase four. But we’re going to be monitoring everything very closely because we know we’ve got to bring back a large group of people from all over, and we have to make sure, as we’re bringing them together We’re not bringing COVID-19 with them.”
The Rangers do not need to recall players when phase two begins as it is a voluntary return. Players will be able to enter the team’s training facility in a group of six to skate and workout without coaches or trainers.
Phase three will be the start of the training camp which should begin sometime in mid-July. Aside from Lundqvist and Zibanejad players such as Kaapo Kakko and Alexandar Georgiev will have to head back to New York. Though no formal announcement has been made by the team, they would probably have to come back by mid-June so that the could self isolate for the 14 days prior to the start of phase three.
Tuesday’s announcement officially ended the regular season and based on the 24-team playoff format, the Rangers qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2017.