The Winnipeg Jets and the other 23 teams involved in the 24-team qualifying round postseason play-in will officially open their small-scale training camps on Friday, July 10. As per a memo send out by the NHL and NHLPA on Thursday morning, Phase III (which is indicative of the opening of training camps) will begin in the second week of July.
“The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that formal training camps (Phase III) for the 24 teams resuming play will open on Friday, July 10, provided that medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement on resuming play,” the memo read. “The length of training camp and, therefore, the start date for formal resumption of play (Phase IV) will be determined at a future date.”
With six of the seven Canadian-based NHL teams having qualified for the play-in, qualifying round, the most significant concern for those members teams is the prospect of self-isolation, which would play a large factor in players’ decisions on returning to their host city or not. Those travelling to many of the Canadian cities from different continents, countries and even provinces would be required to self-isolate for two weeks.
This would mean no ability to practice, train, skate or participate in team activities. With the majority of Winnipeg Jets players not currently living in Manitoba, – under currently legislation – players on the Jets would be required to enter the province (by way of work Visa – indicating essential travel) no later than June 26, should they be interested in the training camp portion of the Return to Play scenario.
However, on Thursday morning, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced the proposed changes to be highlighted in Phase III of Manitoba’s re-opening, which include nixing the requirement for members of a professional sports team to self-isolate for 14 days, should they have already self-isolated in their current whereabouts. The proposed date for Manitoba’s Phase III re-opening is June 21.
With travel restrictions and self-isolation mandates now only in place through the federal government in Manitoba, but under both provincial and federal restriction in other provinces, many Canadian teams have been in conversation with American cities/facilities to host training camp out of, rather than enforcing the mandatory self-isolation, to help suit a larger percentage of team members.
Despite being ruled out of the 10 potential hub cities, Winnipeg is by far the closest to COVID-19 free out of each of the 24 playoff competitors. With Vegas and Toronto serving as frontrunners to host the play-in, other cities (Edmonton) have put forth extreme pressure on provincial governments to consider pushing their city forward as a host through various political tactics.
More information from the Winnipeg Jets is expected to follow as team staff and front office members continue to break down the information provided Thursday from both the NHL and the Province of Manitoba. Although already having been granted access to facilities back on Monday, players from the Jets have not been cleared to enter either Bell MTS Place or Bell MTS Iceplex for training purposes, as the hockey club has not yet opened its doors to Phase II.
With Phase III in the crosshairs, an expected three-week training camp period would see each of the 24 returning teams put their respective wheels into motion for the beginning of Phase IV, or the start of the qualifying round and round robin tournament in mid-August. Winnipeg will be facing Calgary in a best-of-five qualifying round series to determine which team moves on to the Western Conference quarterfinal round. Dates for these games will not be made available until August.