More than 100 days have passed since the Wild last gathered for a practice, but Tria Rink in St. Paul is no longer idle.
The Wild officially began Phase 2 of the NHL’s return to play plan Wednesday, opening its practice facility for voluntary, small group workouts.
Sessions are closed to the public, but the team posted a video on social media of goalie Devan Dubnyk, defenseman Carson Soucy and forward Ryan Hartman on the ice.
Only players from the Wild are using Tria Rink, even though NHLers could request access to another team’s facility if it was near where they were staying during the shutdown. The NHL season has been paused since March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
All players and staff allowed inside the facility were to undergo testing for COVID-19 before participating, and players also needed to have pre-participation medical evaluations. Players can skate in group of up 12 while remaining socially distant during workouts on and off the ice.
Other NHL teams have had their practice rinks in use for weeks since facilities were allowed to open June 8. Since then, 11 out of 200-plus players have tested positive, the NHL said. Last week, Tampa Bay had to close its facilities after three players and additional staff members tested positive. The Lightning reportedly reopened its training sites Wednesday.
Wild training camp is scheduled to begin July 10 at Tria if the league and the players agree to restart the season. The sides need to finalize the protocols for camp and the remaining games. Already they’ve agreed to a 24-team format in two hub cities that kicks off with round-robin play for the top four teams from each conference and a best-of-five, play-in series for everyone else. Once down to 16 teams, a traditional four-round, best-of-seven playoffs will ensue for the Stanley Cup.
The Wild is set to face off against the Vancouver Canucks in the qualifying round.
If the NHL and NHL Players’ Association can reach an agreement in time to begin training camp as scheduled, the season could resume by the end of July.
In the meantime, players are preparing on their own. Forward Luke Kunin said recently he’d been skating locally with teammates Zach Parise, Eric Staal and Jordan Greenway. Players who are working out at Tria Rink aren’t allowed to skate at any other facility.
Hall chooses six
Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa, wingers elected in their first year of eligibility, head the 2020 class for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Iginla, the fourth black player in the Hall, played most of his career with Calgary, scoring 625 goals and finishing with 1,300 points. He’s the only black athlete in any sport to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. Hossa won three Stanley Cups with Chicago and had 1,134 career points.
Other 2020 inductees will be defensemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson; executive Ken Holland, and Canadian women’s goaltender Kim St. Pierre. Lowe, a six-time Cup winner, and Wilson, the 1982 Norris Trophy winner, had to wait more than 20 years to be inducted. Holland, general manager of the Oilers, won three Cups as Detroit’s GM. St. Pierre backstopped Canada to three Olympic gold medals and five world championship titles.