Voluntary workouts are currently set to begin for the playoff-bound New York Islanders and New York Rangers squads.
Effective Monday, June 8, the NHL will begin the second phase of its return-to-play format. This will allow teams to open facilities for voluntary workouts in preparation for the league’s 24-team postseason.
Both the New York Rangers and New York Islanders are in the running for one of the more sought-after Stanley Cups ever. The league was forced into a lengthy hiatus following the COVID-19 outbreak.
The NHL and all sports leagues alike have had to adjust timelines due to the extended absence, and after passing a return-to-play proposal in late-May, commissioner Gary Bettman announced the start date of Phase 2.
The voluntary workouts that will be made accessible to the players upon Phase 2 commencing have to be met with the distinct safety protocols established by the NHL. This, in turn, has led to belief across the league that players will choose to train at public rinks rather than at their team’s facilities, where far stricter measures are being taken to ensure the safety of any participants.
There is also the likelihood of players not currently spending time in the area. Considering the coronavirus has quarantined families all across the globe, a return to voluntary workouts could be further complicated by vicinity to the facility.
Still, the Rangers and Islanders are preparing for the next phase of the restart plan. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello has noted that his team’s facility, the Northwell Health Ice Center, will be ready for use on Monday.
The Rangers, however, are expected to open the Madison Square Garden Training Center in Tarrytown, New York a day late as they fine-tune the safety protocols in the facility.
Upon a return to play, the Islanders will square off against the Florida Panthers, while the Rangers, who were one of the additional teams added to this year’s postseason bracket, will be underdogs against the Carolina Hurricanes.