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Players Will Slowly Return to Chicago as NHL's Phase 2 Starts Monday

Even though Phase 2 of the NHL's "Return to Play" plan begins on Monday, many of the Blackhawks players won't be rushing back to Chicago.
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On Thursday, the NHL announced that Phase 2 of their "Return to Play" plan will begin on Monday, June 8. Phase 2 allows NHL teams to open their training facilities for voluntary on and off-ice training, with a maximum of six players participating at a time.

This is the second phase instituted by the NHL, as Phase 1 was mandatory self-quarantine for all players. Many players around the league, Blackhawks included, went back to their homes either in North America or Europe. Phase 2 is expected to last until July 10 when Phase 3 can begin with formal training camps before resumption of play.

TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported on Friday that, as of today, there are just six Blackhawks players in Chicago, with a few more expected to return to the city in the coming week. With the large number of COVID-19 cases still being reported and many businesses still closed, players don't seem to be in much of a hurry to return to the city.

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Meanwhile, the team does plan to open their training facility next week to allow for on-ice activities to begin. LeBrun reported,

"Chicago expects to open their facility sometime next week, a source said on Friday, with players likely on the ice by the end of the week."

Pierre LeBurn / The Athletic

Even though the players won't be practicing as a team in the near future, players have started to get on the ice in small groups. This past week, Blackhawks' defenseman Adam Boqvist posted on his Instagram clips of him and former Blackhawk Erik Gustafsson skating at a rink in Sweden.

There is still plenty of time for things to go wrong, but as of now the NHL's plan is running smoothly. When, and if, play does resume, the Blackhawks will start with a five-game Qualifying Round series against the Edmonton Oilers.