The St. Louis Blues have been waiting to find out when they will resume training for the 2019-20 season. While it still needs approval, the date is set.
The St. Louis Blues have been waiting for a league announcement as to when official practice can begin. Though the league is currently in Phase 2, the Blues have not opted to take part in official six-man practices yet.
Much of that is due to the team having slightly less than half of the normal NHL roster actually in the area. When the pandemic seemed to have no end in sight, several players left for their vacation homes or country of origin.
The Blues said they would have the players tell them when it was OK to practice. There was never really word whether they would open the Centene Center even for light individual skating, so it is unknown who is doing what.
Now, however, we do know when the team will officially reunite – maybe. The NHL and NHL Players Association announced that preplayoff training camp will start on July 10.
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The maybe part comes, as with everything, from needing approval of the return to play. The NHLPA has approved the playoff format with the intention of playing, but they have not approved a formal return to play plan despite all the dates that have been announced. Most of that is hung up on safety issues, player’s family attendance rules and a wait and see attitude regarding the general opening of society and whether there are any spikes in the disease.
However, according to the ESPN article linked above, it is expected the players will vote on Phase 3 and 4 at the same time. That would mean the July 10th date and the expected early August return to play would become totally official at the same time.
According to Greg Wyshynski, the negotiations for Phase 3 and 4 include location of the two host cities, player accomodations, medical and safety protocols, and whether players will have interactions with their families during their quarantine. They are also having preliminary collective bargaining talks, but hopefully that is secondary and simply taking advantage of the time available.
There are other details that still need to be ironed out. Canadian playoff teams are inquiring whether they will need to have training camp in the United States since the Canadian government still requires a 14-day self-quarantine before exposing yourself to the population, which would throw off a lot of practice time tables.
The NHLPA wants a steady increase in facility capacity. “It only makes sense that eventually the groups are going to expand here in Phase 2,” John Tavares said in Wyshynski’s article. “To go from only seeing six guys and three or four staff members to possibly seeing 40 people at training camp doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense, in the progression way of things.”
As far as the Blues are concerned, they don’t have too much worry. Doug Armstrong knew this would be a slower process than fans want, which was why there was no rush to open the practice doors on day 1.
At least we are getting a clearer picture as to when things will really get going. From a fan perspective, sadly this means a month before we even have camps and close to two months to play, but they are working toward something. That is far better than the past few weeks when it was all just conjecture and hopes with no actual goal.
Now, it is upon the Blues to get back to St. Louis and get things going. With little consistency between now and when play stopped, there is no momentum to ride. This team still has the talent to win again.