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Golden Knights return to ice in small groups

Updated June 8, 2020 - 9:46 pm

If Monday’s beginning of Phase Two of the NHL’s return-to-play plan was an internet meme, it would be D.W. from the cartoon TV show “Arthur” peering through a chain-link fence.

The Golden Knights opened City National Arena for small group training activities but kept the deadbolt locked. Fans and the media were prohibited from entering the building and left to get a hopeful glimpse from across the street.

The team chose to keep details of the workouts private with the exception of a few video snippets that were released Monday night. Marc-Andre Fleury, Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Nick Holden and Deryk Engelland were among the confirmed participants.

Neither players nor coaches were made available to the media since this phase remains voluntary.

The Knights were one of a handful of teams to open their practice facilities on the first day the NHL permitted players to resume skating.

The league and NHL Players’ Association sent a 21-page memo that was made public May 25 detailing the protocol for Phase Two and gave teams the go-ahead last week to begin welcoming back small groups of players.

The Edmonton Oilers posted a picture on social media of Alex Chiasson, Matt Benning, Kris Russell, Tyler Benson and Stuart Skinner on the ice at Rogers Place and later included a video from a portion of the workout.

Islanders forwards Josh Bailey, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck joined goalie Thomas Greiss at the team’s practice facility in East Meadow, New York.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs were also expected to open their buildings to players Monday, according to NHL.com.

Members of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning are set to begin skating Tuesday, and the Arizona Coyotes announced they will return Thursday. Other teams are expected to open their facilities at a later date.

A maximum of six players and a limited number of staff members are allowed in team facilities at a time during Phase Two. Coaches are not permitted to participate in the on-ice skates.

Each group of skaters is provided with an itinerary for their “shift” to avoid exceeding capacity at the team facility and allowing for the rink and locker rooms to be cleaned.

Teams were permitted to begin testing for COVID-19 last week, and participants must undergo testing at least twice weekly during Phase Two, according to the NHL’s memo.

It is believed the majority of the Knights’ roster remained in Las Vegas during the coronavirus pandemic, but any players returning by public transportation (commercial airlines or train) must quarantine for 14 days.

The NHL paused its season March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and players and staff were directed by the league to self-isolate (Phase One).

An expanded 24-team postseason format was approved by the league and players association, though no formal start date has been agreed upon. The Knights were awarded a bye in the qualifying round and will play round-robin games against St. Louis, Colorado and Dallas to determine the top four seeds.

The tournament is expected to open in two hub cities, and Las Vegas is considered one of the favorites to be selected.

The NHL said Phase Three, the opening of training camps, will not take place before July 10. That phase is expected to last two to three weeks followed by the resumption of games.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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