Tampa Bay Lightning reportedly forced to close practice facility due to COVID-19

(Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

While the NHL continues to push ahead in its goal of resuming the 2019-20 season later this summer, the league received the most sobering development of its ongoing uphill climb against COVID-19 on Friday. 

According to Bob McKenzie, the Tampa Bay Lightning have had to close down their training facilities during Phase 2 of the NHL’s “Return To Play” plan after three players and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19. 

This is not the first case of COVID-19 sprouting back up in the NHL ranks since Phase 2 was ushered in, as the Bruins reported last week that a player tested positive (and then negative twice) for the virus and was subsequently not admitted to the team facilities. 

But in Florida — a state that recorded a new single-day record of 3,822 cases of COVID-19 on Friday — things are deteriorating quickly as far as athletics go. Earlier on Friday, the Phillies announced that they had closed their spring training facility in Clearwater, Florida due to an outbreak, while an assistant coach on the Buccaneers also tested positive on Thursday. 

Along with the Bruins and Lightning, three other NHL clubs have had players and staff test positive for the virus — with Ottawa, Colorado and Pittsburgh all reporting cases during the extended self-isolation phase from March to May. 

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