TAMPA, Fla. — Three months have passed since the Tampa Bay Lightning last stepped on the ice. With the NHL moving to Phase 2 of its return to play, teams began reopening facilities Monday and Tuesday for physicals and limited, voluntary workouts.
These aren’t official practices, move like conditioning sessions and a few stickhandling drills. But, after 90 days of uncertainty, Lightning players are excited just get back on the ice.
“It definitely didn’t feel awkward,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “It was exciting being out there.”
The league set strict protocols about having only six players in the building at a time. For Shattenkirk, it felt like an off-season training program, not gearing up for the playoffs.
“It felt like summer,” Shattenkirk said. “Usually about July you dust the hockey bag off, get a couple guys together to move around, to skate. The challenge with so few guys is getting meaningful and being able to get something out of it.”
Of course, the team exercised health safety guidelines. Players were required to have temperature checks first thing in the morning and report to the team physicians if they had any symptoms.
“Once you get to the rink, temperature check again,” he said. “Keep your masks on at all times, pretty much in any situation that you’re not being active. You can work out without a mask, but stay six feet away from the closest person.”
If all goes well with Phase 2, Phase 3, which would be the opening of training camps, will not start before July 10.