Oilers begin training camp ahead of bubble in Edmonton, team honours Cave ahead of practice
EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers were back on the ice Monday for the first day of the NHL's return-to-play training camp.
Thirty-three players were invited, including five goaltenders, 10 defencemen and 18 forwards.
The team is preparing for the best-of-five qualifying round against the Chicago Blackhawks, set to begin on Aug. 1.
"The players have been here for a few weeks and the coaches have had no contact whatsoever with them other than a phone call here and there," Oilers head coach Dave Tippett told media.
"Wearing masks, keeping our distance, taking your temperature and doing all that kind of stuff, all the stuff we need to keep each other safe," captain Connor McDavid said.
Edmonton Oilers defenceman Mike Green opted out of playing the rest of the season. In a statement released on July 11, he said the uncertainty around COVID-19 and some personal family health reasons prompted his decision.
"(The decision) didn't catch me off guard," Tippett said. "(Green) was really struggling with the decision, but he decided that for personal reasons with his family it was the best situation for him, and you have to respect that."
Defenceman Caleb Jones was "unfit to practice," the team said, though it's unclear if he tested positive for COVID-19.
Edmonton is one of two hub cities in the plan to finish the 2019-20 season, which was paused in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 24 teams included in the return-to-play plan will be in their hub city by July 26.
The conference finals and Stanley Cup final will be in Edmonton.
OILERS REMEMBER COLBY CAVE
The Oilers honoured Colby Cave, the teammate who died after suffering a brain bleed in April, ahead on Monday's practice.
The Rogers Place scoreboard above centre ice displayed a picture of Cave in his Oiler uniform high-fiving fans beside the message "We Skate for Colby."
"It's the first time we've all been together in a big group since Colby passed," McDavid said. "Obviously those emotions are still fresh.
"It makes it even more real now that we're all together and he's not able to join us.
"He's obviously going to be in our toughts and in our hearts as we go forward."
Tippett remembered Cave as an "unbelieveable young man, great teammate."
"He would be with us today if he hadn't passed...he's with us in spirit," Tippett said.
With files from the Canadian Press