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Isles Day to Day: Adam Pelech Cleared for Play

After being sidelined since January, Pelech has been cleared to return to action

by Sasha Kandrach KandrachSasha /

Adam Pelech is ready for action.

New York Islanders President and GM Lou Lamoriello confirmed on a conference call on Wednesday afternoon that the defenseman has been cleared to skate when the Islanders resume small-group workouts as part of Phase 2 of the NHL's Return to Play Plan.

"Once the players are cleared to go in the arena and the facilities are open, [Pelech] is cleared to participate in the small number of people that are allowed on the ice as if the injury never took place," Lamoriello said. "He has clearance. So does Casey Cizikas. There's no injury of any player that I'm aware of that should hold them back from participating immediately."

The NHL was placed on an indefinite pause on March 12 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On Monday, the NHL sent teams a memo detailing that small-group workouts - featuring a maximum of six players per session - could resume in early June. On Tuesday afternoon, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, outlined a detailed 24-team Return to Play Plan that was approved by the League's Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players' Association. 

The Plan features phases to safely transition players back on the ice and competing for the Stanley Cup. The Plan does not require players, like Pelech or Cizikas, who were previously on Injured Reserve prior to the pause to have to undergo any form of protocol if they have already been cleared to play. 

Video: Return to Play Plan for 2019-20 NHL Season

Pelech has been sidelined since Jan. 2 after he sustained an injury to his Achilles tendon, which required surgery, just before the Islanders' home game against the New Jersey Devils. Prior to his injury, the defenseman was logging hefty minutes against opposing teams' top lines and was a crucial component of the Islanders' penalty kill. Through 38 games, the 25-year-old left-shot compiled nine points (1G, 8A). 

In Pelech's absence, the entire Islanders defense core has picked up in his absence.  

"[Pelech] is a valuable piece to our team," Lamoriello stated. "In saying that, we have to wait and see where everyone is at. It's similar coming off the summer and going into training camp. [Pelech] is healthy, he is physically healthy and certainly feels good. He's ready to play."

Tweet from @NYIslanders: We miss all of this. 🤩Can���t wait til hockey and Adam Pelech are both back!

For the team as a whole, the third phase of the Return to Play Plan, which allows for full-team training camps, will be critical for the coaching staff to thoroughly evaluate who will earn a spot in the lineup come puck drop. Phase Three will not start before the first half of July. 

"We're going to have depth in all positions because of everyone being healthy," Lamoriello said. "In a short tournament, the best players have to play and the best combinations have to play. That'll be decisions the coaching staff has to make once they see the players and once they come in. But, there's no question what [Pelech's] value is to the team."

No dates have been confirmed for when the NHL officially begins implementing its Return to Play Plan. But with a healthy roster, the Islanders are eager to get back on the ice and contend for the Stanley Cup. 

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