“The Bolts are back,” whether it’s a good idea or not. Five days after closing facilities upon learning that three players and multiple staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the Tampa Bay Lightning re-opened its two training facilities for Phase 2.
Considering other news, it’s an uncomfortable look.
The Lightning re-opened facilities on Wednesday. Just yesterday, Florida reported a troubling 3,200 new COVID-19 cases (and more than 3,000 deaths). Reports indicate that Wednesday’s news is even worse, with more than 5,000 new cases.
Lightning, other NHL teams trying to squeeze in training amid COVID-19
As awkward as it seems to come back this soon, and amid surging cases, it’s also true that the Lightning are trying to squeeze things into a small window. For the Lightning and the NHL, the overriding hope is that training camps (aka Phase 3) will begin on July 10. That doesn’t leave much room for error … or outbreaks.
With every bump in the road, players (and coaches) are likely to feel less and less willing to roll the dice. An anonymous veteran player said “guys aren’t happy,” according to a report by The Athletic’s James Mirtle and Michael Russo (sub required).
That player points out that July 10 can also feel like a long time. After all, there would be many chances for other COVID-19 outbreaks, both among players and the general population.
“This just makes no sense to me,” The veteran player said, via The Athletic. “Right from the return-to-play format announcement and this Phase 2 thing that none of us have to be in, they’ve put the cart before the horse. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and they’re shocked there’s an outbreak? And it’s a long ways off to July 10, so you can’t tell me more and more guys won’t be testing positive as more and more guys start to get back to town.”
The Lightning and other NHL teams face plenty of obstacles before it can pull off this return to play. Despite this COVID-19 surge, the Lightning are forging ahead by opening their facilities back up — for now.
NHL TEAMS, PLAYERS TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19:
- Dallas, Pittsburgh ruled out as hub cities; list of options down to six.
- Auston Matthews reportedly tests positive, NHL announces 11 players overall.
- Lightning players, staff test positive for COVID-19, pausing Phase 2.
- Penguins player tested positive, now recovered
- Multiple Avalanche players tested positive
- Senators also dealt with outbreaks
- Former NHL player Georges Laraque dealt with COVID-19