New Jersey State Governor Phil Murphy announced on Tuesday morning that professional sports teams in his state are allowed to return to training and competition “if their leagues choose to move in that direction.”
It’s big news for the Philadelphia Flyers, whose training facilities are located in Voorhees Township, and 76ers, who train in Camden. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
On Monday, the NHL released a 22-page memorandum laying the groundwork for Phase 2 of the league’s return, which features teams heading back to their respective team facilities to train for the impending restart of the 2019-20 season. The hope is that they will be allowed to start training at those sites by early June.
Phase 2 activities will only be permitted in areas that have been given consent by health or governmental officials.
For teams in heavily-impacted areas who have not been permitted to return to team facilities, the league will work out alternative arrangements, but that might not be too much of an issue.
New Jersey was the second-most impacted state during the coronavirus outbreak while New York — by far the most impacted state in the country — saw Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday give the green light for professional sports teams to begin practicing.
NHL players that were not in their team’s home city during self-quarantining (Phase 1) or permanently reside elsewhere will be reimbursed $1,500 for travel and provided safe and proper lodging for the duration of Phase 2.
All players and coaches will be administered coronavirus tests 48 hours before returning to team facilities. Only when tests come back negative, usually within 24 hours, is when they will be granted access.
Those in areas without proper testing would have to self-quarantine for an additional 14 days in the team’s home market.
Upon their potential returns, teams will be tasked in recording their players’ symptoms and administer daily temperature checks. The tests will be self-administered with guidelines being outlined by the league.
Any player that tests positive or develops COVID-19 symptoms would be forced to self-isolate and will be medically evaluated by the team’s physicians and infectious disease specialists to determine the next steps.
At the time of the NHL’s indefinite postponement due to the outbreak on March 12, the Flyers ranked second in the Metropolitan Division and were the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Under the NHL’s proposed return, which features a 24-team expanded playoff, the Flyers would receive a bye into the Eastern Conference quarterfinals while the 5-12 seeds battle it out in a best-of-five series.
Meanwhile, the 76ers could be back in action come July as they sit sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Both Philadelphia teams likely won’t be playing at Wells Fargo Center for the remainder of the 2019-20 season, though.
The NBA is moving toward securing Walt Disney World Resort as a singular, neutral site to finish up the season while the NHL is preparing to have two hub cities host each conference’s playoff.