Weeks before the planned restart of NHL training camps ahead of the 24-team model to crown a Stanley Cup champion for a season altered by the coronavirus pandemic, the league may have hit its first significant roadblock toward resuming play.
On the same day the Philadelphia Phillies confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak among players and staff working in Clearwater, Fla., TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that the Tampa Bay Lightning had to close their facility due to multiple positive coronavirus tests:
It’s my understanding one NHL club has had to temporarily close its training facilities during Phase Two because multiple players and some staff have tested positive for Covid-19.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 19, 2020
McKenzie added he heard three players and two staff members from the Lightning have tested positive, and that the team is awaiting additional results. It's expected that the team facility will reopen if everyone else produces negative tests:
I believe it’s three players and two staff who tested positive. Remaining players and staff are being tested. If no further positive tests, expectation is training facility will re-open, Phase Two will continue. If there are further positive tests, well, we will see what happens.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 19, 2020
The team in question is the Tampa Bay Lightning.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 19, 2020
One thing to note when numbers of positive tests are cited. They sometimes change after the fact. In some instances, an initial positive test comes back negative on a follow up test. So it’s possible the five positives could end up as four here.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 19, 2020
On Thursday, Orange County, Fla., Mayor Jerry Demings mandated all individuals must wear masks in public following coronavirus spikes throughout Florida. Major League Soccer and the NHL are planning to resume their seasons in Orlando next month.
NHL training camps are scheduled to begin July 10, but commissioner Gary Bettman has been clear since late May that dates are penciled-in and dependent on local guidelines and restrictions and also test results.
Earlier in the day, the Phillies confirmed at least five players and three staff members tested positive for COVID-19 this week. As many as 32 additional test results were unknown as of the time of the team's statement.
The club temporarily closed its Clearwater, Fla., facility.