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NHL hoping to start small group workouts

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TORONTO — The NHL is hoping to move to Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol, including the opening of practice facilities and allowing small group workouts, early next month.

The league, which was forced to pause its season March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, released a 22-page memo detailing the plan Monday. The document stresses there’s no exact date for the start of Phase 2 or a timetable for how long it will last.

Only six players will be allowed in team facilities at one time for the voluntary workouts, and no on-ice coaching or instruction is permitted.

On-ice sessions will be non-contact and players will be expected to maintain physical distancing at all times. Players will be required to wear masks when entering and exiting facilities, and when not able to physically distance, but not when they’re practising/exercising.

The final two phases of the return-to-play protocol - training camps followed by a resumption of play - were not mentioned in the memo.

The NHL/NHL Players’ Association Return to Play Committee has been hashing out details of what the game will look like if it’s allowed to return this summer. The union’s executive board approved further negotiations on a 24-team format Friday.

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