NHL News

Source: Lightning close facility due to virus

The Tampa Bay Lightning have temporarily shut down their training facility after several players and staffers have tested positive for coronavirus, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Other players and staffers who have been at the facility are being tested. The Lightning and NHL will figure out how to proceed based off of the results of those tests.

The NHL is currently in Phase 2 of its return to play program, which allows for small, voluntary group workouts. Only six players are allowed on the ice at a time, and only non-contact drills are allowed.

Players are required to report to training camps on July 10 before the NHL begins its expanded 24-team postseason. The NHL has narrowed down its list of hub cities and is expected to announce the two it has chosen sometime next week.

The NHL and NHLPA are still working out health and safety protocols for Phase 3 (training camps) and Phase 4 (games). However, the NHL has already announced that it will be testing players and staffers daily once games resume.

“We will have a rigorous daily testing protocol where players are tested every evening and those results are obtained before they would leave their hotel rooms the next morning, so we’ll know if we have a positive test and whether the player has to self-quarantine himself as a result of that positive test,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “It’s expensive, but we think it’s really a foundational element of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Each test costs approximately $125. Commissioner Gary Bettman has estimated that 25,000-35,000 will be needed to get through the playoffs — which will cost the league “millions of dollars.”

Bettman noted that medical experts consulting with the NHL have told him that by the time games could resume this summer, 25,000-30,000 tests would be “a relatively insignificant number.”

On Friday, Florida reported 3,822 new cases of coronavirus, a new one-day record. Also on Friday, the Philadelphia Phillies closed their training facility in Clearwater — just 23 miles from Tampa Bay — after five players and three staff members tested positive.

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