The NHL told players on Thursday that the third phase of the league's plan for live games to return would not take place until at least July 10. That stage of the process is when training camps are supposed to start for teams, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

This announcement is a slight departure from what was originally said by the league when Gary Bettman's four-phase plan to have players and teams return to play was first revealed. At the time things were first divulged, the expectation was that Phase 3 would happen before the first half of July.

As things stand, the league is still in Phase 1 of the plan, where players and coaches are under a league-mandated quarantine for a couple of weeks. Once that has been successfully completed it would usher in Phase 2, which is a policy that allows for small group workouts. The goal is for that phase to happen as early as next week. 

Although teams have already technically gone through training camps for this season, the purpose of Phase 3 is so that players will be in better shape once they return to the ice -- because a game of out-of-shape professionals would not exactly make for the most compelling battle for the Stanley Cup and could lead to increased injuries.

Phase 4, naturally, will be when play officially resumes. That's when the league will dive head-first into its 24-team playoff system.