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Capitals head into Phase 3 of NHL's Return to Play plan, will return to ice in August

Hockey is slowly coming back, one phased play at a time. The Caps will kick off Phase 3 of the league's reopening plan, beginning training camps for post-season.

WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals are transitioning into Phase 3 of the NHL's Return to Play Plan for the rest of the 2019-2020 season, team officials said Saturday.

On Friday, the league finalized changes and agreed to extend the collective bargaining agreement for the rest of the season. The NHL season was put on pause four months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, instead heading straight into 24-team format for the post-season.

Formal training camps start next Monday, July 13, in preparation for an August 1 start to the postseason. Twenty-four teams qualified for the extended Stanley Cup playoffs, says NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. That includes the number 3 seed Capitals, whose Phase 3 roster will include 20 forwards, 10 defensemen and four goalies broken up into two squads. 

The games will be played in two Canadian hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton and will not feature fans. Capitals' practices will still remain closed for the general public in Phase 3.

As for when the Caps will hit the ice in the postseason,  the first game will happen in less than a month. The team will start the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning on August 3 in a seeding game, with the Stanely Cup Finals tentatively scheduled for September 22.

Credit: AP
FILE - This is a March 12, 2020, file photo showing Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Capitals NHL hockey club in Washington. Get used to the concept of pods and pucks if the NHL is going to have any chance of completing its season, with the most likely scenarios calling for games in empty, air-conditioned arenas during the dog days of summer. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

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