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NHL reports more than twice as many positive COVID-19 tests since training began

Fans pose below the NHL league logo
The NHL says 26 players have tested positive for COVID-19.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Twenty-six players have tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return to Play program began, the league said Monday, more than double the total previously announced.

In Phase 2, which began June 8, players are permitted to work out at team facilities in small groups and on a voluntary basis after they undergo COVID-19 testing.

Phase 3 will be marked by the opening of full training camp for the 24 teams scheduled to compete in postseason play. That’s scheduled to begin July 10 but might be delayed because the NHL and its players’ union have not reached a comprehensive agreement on key issues such as testing protocols for training camp and the resumption of play. They also haven’t agreed on the location of the two playoff hub sites where players will live and compete in as tight a “bubble” as possible in order to mitigate the chances of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

No fans will be allowed to attend games at those sites, at least to start.

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An announcement on the hub cities is expected this week. Los Angeles, which would be a neutral site because the Kings didn’t qualify for the expanded, 24-team postseason tournament, has remained in the running as the field of candidates dwindled from 10 to five.

The other cities still in contention are Chicago, Las Vegas, Edmonton and Toronto. Las Vegas has been considered a favorite but a surge in new cases of COVID-19 in southern Nevada might give the league and the players’ union second thoughts. A COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County might hurt Los Angeles’ chances, which were slim from the start.

The Kings moved up to second in the NHL draft on Friday, but the winner of the lottery won’t be known until after the qualifying round of the playoffs.

In a statement the league said:

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“As of Monday, June 29, the NHL has had in excess of 250 Players report to Club training/practice facilities for optional participation in Phase 2 activities. There have been in excess of 1,450 COVID-19 tests administered to this group of Players. Those tests have resulted in a total of 15 Players returning confirmed positive test results for COVID-19.

“In addition, since June 8 (the opening of Phase 2), the League is aware of 11 additional Players who have tested positive for COVID-19 outside of the Phase 2 Protocol. All Players who have tested positive have been self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols. The NHL will continue to provide regular updates on the number of tests administered to Players and the results of those tests.”

Separately, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced that longtime Vancouver-based writer Tony Gallagher will receive the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey and that longtime play-by-play announcer Rick Peckham will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.

They are scheduled to be honored Nov. 16 in Toronto during the Hall of Fame’s traditional induction weekend. The date of this year’s event is in doubt because of restrictions related to the pandemic.


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