NHL targets return to practice in early June

The National Hockey League said Monday that nine new players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, bringing the total since June 8 to 35 from among 396 players tested

National Hockey League teams could be able to hold training sessions for small groups of players in early June in the latest phase of the sport's return from the coronavirus shutdown, the league said on Monday.

A memo sent to teams on Sunday said groups of up to six players would be allowed to train on the ice together at any one time under the new relaxed guidelines.

No date was given for when the new guidelines will take effect, but the league said it was targeting a return to practice in "early June".

The memo said the NHL would continue to "monitor developments" in each individual market and could "adjust the overall timing if appropriate."

Under the new training protocols, a maximum of six players will be allowed to train together, with no coaches or team personnel allowed on the ice.

Players will also be required to wear face coverings when they are not on the rink.

The league added that participation in the return to training was "strictly voluntary."

"The health of player and club personnel is the league's top priority," the memo said.

The NHL shut down its 2019-20 campaign on March 12 with just over three weeks of the regular season remaining.

The league is reportedly mulling a plan to return to play which could see 24 clubs based at two sites.