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Avalanche Begins Phase 2 Skates

Players return to ice in voluntary sessions at Pepsi Center

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele /

Members of the Colorado Avalanche took the ice at Pepsi Center on Monday for the first time since March 11 as part of Phase 2 of the NHL's Return to Play Plan.

The players were split into two groups, and some of the players that took part in the voluntary skates were forwards Joonas Donskoi, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon, defenseman Ian Cole and goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

Cole, Donskoi and Grubauer have been in Denver since the league paused on March 12 due to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic while MacKinnon and Landeskog elected to quarantine in Canada after the NHL allowed players to leave their playing cities while waiting for the season to resume.

Photo Gallery: Return to Play Phase 2 | June 15, 2020

The league's Return to Play Plan is highlighted by a competitive format where 24 teams, 12 in each conference, will resume playing and vie for the Stanley Cup in Phase 4 of the plan. Colorado earned a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers in its last game on March 11, the day before the pause began, and finished the 2019-20 regular-season with a .657 points percentage, the second best in the Western Conference, and will join the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights in a round-robin series to determine the top four seeds for the 2020 playoffs.

The league began the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 on June 8 and in this segment of the Return to Play Plan, clubs were permitted to reopen their facilities to allow players to participate on a voluntary basis in small group training activities both on and off the ice. Each group can have a maximum of six players and a limited number of staff in each session, designed to provide players with a safe and controlled environment to resume their conditioning.

The National Hockey League Players' Association and the NHL announced last Thursday that formal training camps, Phase 3, will open on Friday, July 10, if medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement on resuming play.

The length of the Phase 3 training camp and the timing and locations for Phase 4 will be determined at a future date.

The Avalanche will hold team activities for Phase 2 and 3 at Pepsi Center, with all of the skating sessions closed to the general public for safety reasons due to the pandemic. Phase 4 will be held at a to-be determined "Hub City" that the league will announce at a later time.

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