Coronavirus: NHL training camps set to open July 10

Omnisport

The NHL and its players association have agreed to begin formal training camps on July 10.

The next step in the league's plan to conduct a 24-team playoff to restart a season still on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic was announced on Thursday.

Opening camps next month will be contingent on the assurance of a safe environment for the players and the length of time they will work together in the group is yet to be determined.

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An official start date for the resumption of the season will also be finalised at a later date. 

Nine NHL players have been known to test positive for COVID-19 since the league suspended play on March 12, though five are members of the Ottawa Senators, who did not qualify for the expanded postseason.

The Colorado Avalanche have had three confirmed cases of players with the virus and the Pittsburgh Penguins one.  

The NHL announced a four-step Return to Play initiative on May 26 and is currently in Phase 2 of the plan, which allowed teams to reopen training facilities in their home cities for limited voluntary player workouts.

The league will enter Phase 3 once training camps are formally opened, with Phase 4 bringing the resumption of the season. 

With camps expected to run for at least three weeks, the earliest start date for the playoffs would be around August 1.

Host sites for the postseason are still in the process of being determined as well. The league plans to hold games - without fans in attendance - at two separate hub sites, with one city hosting the Eastern Conference bracket and the Western Conference encounters taking place in another locale. 

Ten cities are under consideration for hub sites: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver.  

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