The St. Louis Blues are in no rush to return to the ice formally. They are not going to reopen immediately with Phase 2.
Yesterday, St. Louis Blues fans got very excited about the news that the playoff format had been solidified and there was even a definitive date when practice could resume. Phase 2 can begin on June 8, which is a Monday, across the NHL in their home cities.
The Blues will opt not to officially open on that date. I say officially because the language Doug Armstrong used was somewhat open ended.
In the Post-Dispatch, Jim Thomas reported that Armstrong has said the Blues will not reopen June 8. However, he kind of left it up to each individual what their options were.
“I have talked with the players and they will tell us when they think we should open,” Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch. “If they feel comfortable training as they are (currently), they should. When they want us to open, we will.”
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That could be taken a couple different ways. It might mean what it says and the facility itself will not be open June 8 and nobody will be using it.
Or, it could be taken a different way. It could mean that the Blues will not hold organized practice, but any individual can utilize the ice if they want.
I highly doubt the team would stop Vladimir Tarasenko from getting out there for a good, hard skate if he wanted. They would probably not tell Jordan Binnington that he could not get out there and take some shots, if he had someone to take them against him.
All this statement means is the team will not be holding the maximum six-player workouts as allowed by the NHL on June 8. While this is somewhat disappointing, whether they had practice or not really does not affect the fans. The only reason we were excited was based on one more reality showcasing the fact the NHL would be back soon.
Other than a few pictures posted by a team social media member, there would likely not have been any media access to these practices. So, other than knowing they were in there, we would have no visual representation of what was going on.
Also, as Thomas’ article points out, Phase 2 would not benefit the entire team as currently comprised. While the majority of the team stayed in St. Louis initially, only about 10 players are in the area now. The rest went to their vacation homes or home countries when the stoppage started getting lengthier.
So, Armstrong is treating this like an offseason program. As far as franchise mandates, they won’t really require the team to get back to the area until Phase 3, which will be the formal training camps. While all still rumor, that might not happen until July 10th.
Nevertheless, even if the team is not officially opening practices June 8, I hope they let guys into the building if they want. This is unlike any offseason as players have had no access to ice at all, unless they found special circumstances. They need as much time to build up their legs and ankles as they can get.