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NHL eyes training camp start date, sends players home amid coronavirus

Fans line up outside of Gila River Arena before the NHL game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets on October 9, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The National Hockey League issued a statement Monday regarding directives for players as the coronavirus pandemic has paused the league’s regular season.

The NHL said players could opt to return home effective immediately, including outside of North America. Otherwise, self-quarantine should continue through at least March 27. Team facilities may be open thereafter for small-group training sessions for players “on the same basis as in the offseason.”

The statement also eyed a possible training camp start date, saying that the league’s objective is to potentially have a training camp period “roughy 45 days into the 60-day period covered by the CDC’s directive.”

This likely refers to a CDC guideline issued Sunday that said groups of 50 or more people should not gather for the next eight weeks (56 days), which would put a potential league start date at May 10. Fifteen days prior to that would be April 25, the suggested target date for the start of training camp.

Of course, things have changed quickly and that timeline is anything but solidified.

A start of training camp on April 25, which seems like the most optimistic scenario herein, would put the NHL well beyond what would’ve otherwise been the end of its regular season. The Coyotes’ final regular season game was scheduled for April 4.

It’s hard to say now whether the remaining games will get played at all or how the playoffs will be decided and played or canceled altogether. The NCAA canceled the rest of its basketball events just as the sport crescendoed into its postseason.

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