John Carlson called his return to MedStar Capitals Iceplex “a little awkward and weird,” having to re-familiarize himself with his longtime training facility but with new boundaries due safety precautions now in place aimed at limiting the COVID-19 risk.

But Carlson welcomed the awkwardness, knowing it means hockey will soon be back, as Capitals teammates slowly trickle in from their respective self-isolation sites. As of now, the NHL requires players who have returned to work to undergo saliva testing three times per week to ensure their safety.

“I know that that’s what it is right now through this phase in small group activity,” Carlson told Chad Dukes during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance. “That’s the plan right now, accompanied with a lot of hygiene officers to make sure that we’re all being safe and keeping as much apart as we can and not sharing certain things.”

“It’s been the first couple days a little awkward and weird, being in the same facility and not having access to certain parts of our locker room and that sort of thing,” he said. “But something I’m happy to get back out there and start being able to train on the ice again and I think we’re all willing to jump through hoops to make that happen.”

The NHL entered Phase 2 of its return-to-play plan last week, allowing for players – on a voluntary basis – to practice at team facilities in small groups. More than three months have passed since the Capitals last played on March 9. That prolonged hiatus now over, training camp is also now in sight, slated to begin July 10 

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