NHL: Players can start voluntary group workouts next week

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FILE - In this April 26, 2019, file photo, the Stanley Cup playoffs logo is seen on the ice during a light and sound check prior to Game 1 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series between the New York Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes, in New York. The NHL nailed down the final details of a playoff format if the season can resume on the same day word came out that another player has tested positive for the coronavirus.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

The NHL cleared the way Thursday for players to return to practice rinks next week and firmed up its playoff format even as a ninth player tested positive for the coronavirus.

After unveiling the final details of its 24-team plan if the season is able to resume this summer, the league said teams could reopen facilities and players could take part in limited, voluntary workouts beginning Monday. The NHL and NHL Players' Association must still iron out health and safety protocols before moving ahead with training camps and games.

Players can skate in groups of up to six at a time under “phase 2,” which includes specific instructions on testing, mask-wearing and temperature checks. It's another step closer to the ice after the league said every playoff series will be a best-of-seven format after the initial qualifying round and teams will be reseeded throughout.

That announcement came at nearly the same time the Pittsburgh Penguins revealed one of their players had tested positive. The team said the player is not in Pittsburgh, isolated after experiencing symptoms and has recovered from COVID-19.