SUNRISE, Fla. — We now know the when, just not the where.
Hey, it’s a start.
On Thursday, the NHL and NHLPA announced it had come to an agreement on when teams can begin training camp and start Phase 3 of the league’s return to play initiative.
The NHL put the 2019-20 season on pause on March 12 a day after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus before a game in Oklahoma City. The NBA suspended its season right then.
“Formal training camps (Phase 3) for the 24 teams resuming play will open on Friday, July 10,” the joint statement read, “provided that medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement on resuming play.
“The length of training camp and, therefore, the start date for formal resumption of play (Phase 4) will be determined at a future date.”
Although formal camp can begin July 10, it is not known whether those camps will be held in home cities (the Panthers would likely be in Coral Springs if so) or at a still-to-be determined hub city.
When the Stanley Cup tournament begins (date TBA) it will be in one of two sites: 12 teams from each conference will gather in one spot.
The tournament teams are expected to play a couple of exhibition games before the best-of-5 play-in series begin.
Florida, as the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference, will play the New York Islanders in a rematch of the 2016 East quarterfinals.
“The guys are excited because now you can see it — it is right in front of you,” GM Dale Tallon said last month.
“There was doubt before. We had 13 games left in the regular season and we probably had to win eight or nine of those to get into the regular playoff scenario.
“But now we know what the deal is. We have a chance to win three games, move on and have the chance to do something special.”
Tallon said a few weeks ago that the Panthers were expected to be healthy and ready to go once the green light for camp is given.
On Wednesday, a handful of players took part in informal workouts at the IceDen as Phase 2 started for the Panthers.
When camp starts, expect the Panthers to have an expanded roster (as will the other 23 teams) including at least one extra goalie and a handful of additional skaters.
Tallon said both Owen Tippett and Henrik Borgstrom had healed up from what would have been season-ending injuries at AHL Springfield so it assumed those two forwards would be part of an expanded roster.
Defensemen Chase Priskie and Brady Keeper could be part of the team as well.
The Panthers are expected to carry at least three goalies with Sam Montembeault sticking around to join Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger on the Florida roster.
“Everyone is healthy and ready to go,” Tallon said. “We have no one who will miss any time at all. That’s good news. A lot of teams had guys who were out for the year and now might be ready to play in this tournament.”