- The Washington Times
Friday, May 29, 2020

As the NHL inches closer to Phase 2 of its pandemic reopening plan, which will allow for voluntary small-group workouts to begin, the Washington Capitals are getting ready.

The Instagram account for MedStar Capitals Iceplex showed behind-the-scenes footage Thursday and Friday of workers preparing the Capitals‘ primary practice rink to be used again.

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan told reporters Friday that the team has been in contact with government officials about making sure the facility in Arlington, Virginia, can reopen when the NHL enacts Phase 2.

Sports have begun to return in Virginia, though under strict limitations. D.C. United began having individual workouts Friday at Segra Field in Leesburg, Va., under Major League Soccer guidelines; players were not allow to share equipment, which meant no passing or shooting balls.

Most of the Capitals‘ conversation, though, has been with NHL executives and team doctors and trainers, MacLellan said.

“This phase I think is up to the players,” MacLellan said. “We’re making our facility available. European players, if they have some workout area that they want to go, they can go to that. Players living in other cities are allowed to go to rinks in their cities. It’s not a decision from team management. We’re trying to make ours available health-wise, get the ice in, have some protocols in place (using) the direction from the league and from the medical experts on how we can make our facility available.”

MacLellan estimated that about six Capitals players are currently local to the D.C. area. The rest are spread out in their home countries or summer homes.

The league’s guidelines for Phase 2 say a maximum of six players can participate in on-ice workouts at a time. Many players likely will relish the opportunity; John Carlson recently said he hasn’t skated at all since the season was suspended March 12.

Phase 3, a training-camp period to get 24 teams ready for the modified postseason tournament, will not start before July 10 and is expected to last around three weeks.

“European guys, guys coming from out of town, I think they’ll filter in as we get closer to July 10, if that’s the actual date for training camp,” MacLellan said. “I think guys will try and time it where they work out at home, kind of schedule in their two-week quarantine and a little bit period to skate, and then go to training camp.”

The general manager hasn’t spoken with individual players about their desire and timeline to come back to the D.C. area, but said he knows everyone will have different levels of comfort and risk tolerance about playing during or after the pandemic.

“Some people, they treat it as a flu virus. Some people are very worried about becoming in contact (with it),” MacLellan said. “We have to treat each player individually, and how their belief system is. We’ve got to try and make them as comfortable as they can. If they are not comfortable, we got to try and work with them and move forward.”

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