After close to three months in hibernation, the sheet at Warrior Ice Arena was once again sheared and marred by the skate blades of some familiar faces — with Wednesday’s informal workouts signaling the start of Phase 2 of the NHL’s extensive “Return To Play” plan.
While current Phase 2 guidelines prohibit more than six skaters on the ice for these informal, voluntary workouts, Boston’s first step toward seeing through the 2019-20 season involved just a pair of regulars — with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand the lone participants for Wednesday’s on-ice work.
The NHL officially transitioned to Phase 2 back on June 8, with a number of other NHL clubs already getting back on the ice earlier this week. Along with on-ice work, players can also take part in weight training that doesn’t require a spotter, resistance training, cardiovascular exercises, and endurance training. Both rehabilitation and treatment for players with ongoing injuries is also allowed.
Phase 2 represents a massive step forward as players look to shake off the rust that has formed from three months away from the rink, but no coaches, skating coaches, other club employees or club contracted representatives are allowed to participate in these voluntary workouts. Coaches and Hockey Operations Personnel will be allowed to observe — but not take part in — these practices at a later date in Phase 2. The memo notes that two weeks after Phase 2 could be a target date for personnel to watch over these workouts.
While it remains to be seen just how many Bruins are going to take part in these workouts in Brighton, a number of skaters have remained in the immediate Boston area during the quarantine, while Zdeno Chara noted in late May that he made the drive back up from Florida up to Massachusetts in order to take part in practices. Phase 2 will not serve as a substitute for training camp, as Phase 3 will involve full practices and is expected to get underway in July — although no official date has been set.
Here’s a video of both Marchand and Bergeron returning to the ice at Warrior, courtesy of the Boston Bruins: