This morning, the NHL provided an update on the state of the suspended 2019-20 season through a quick Q&A and I wanted to look at a few of the answers provided in the short release.
Despite the videos from players like Connor McDavid, Matt Benning, and Caleb Jones, a lot of folks are wondering what’s going on with NHL players and whether or not they’re being asked to stay at home by the league. As expected, the NHL confirmed that players have been asked to stay in quarantine.
Are NHL Players currently under direction to quarantine?
Yes. The self-quarantine period should continue through and including Friday, March 27, unless a longer period might be required for some Players in accordance with local mandates that could be related to their recent travel.
In regards to players testing positive for COVID-19, the NHL provided an update that there are currently two known cases among the players and both of those happened in Ottawa. (The Senators announced this on Saturday)
Have any NHL Players tested positive for the coronavirus?
We are aware of two NHL players testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. The Ottawa Senators Players, who tested positive, presented only mild symptoms and are currently in isolation.
Frankly, with the way this thing spreads and moves around, it seemed like only a matter of time before an NHLer would contract the virus and I commend the Senators for letting everybody know while also respecting the players’ privacy. Personally, I don’t care that they didn’t release the names but more so that they’re being upfront with their fans. Regardless of who these guys are, all we can hope is that they make a speedy recovery and remain locked down until the illness passes over.
Once the self-quarantine period for players is over, will they be allowed to resume meeting/skating as a team to stay in shape and prepare themselves for a resumption of play?
At the end of the self-quarantine period — and depending on developments regarding COVID-19 between now and then — consideration will be given to allowing the opening of Club facilities to Players in scheduled and coordinated small groups for voluntary training and Club care.
Even if the players are able to come back and start training again, I know a lot of people are wondering what will happen under those circumstances and what the league will be doing to keep guys safe. So will testing take place before a player is allowed to return?
Will there be any testing for COVID-19 required before the Players return in such a scenario?
If a Player exhibits symptoms or becomes sick and testing for COVID-19 is recommended by Club medical staff, the Player will be tested. We do not anticipate the need to conduct League-wide testing for all NHL Players for COVID-19 prior to their returning to NHL Club facilities.
Over the past couple of weeks, since this whole thing went down, we’ve seen plenty of scenarios get tabled for everything from a 24-team playoff format to games in August to the NHL not wanting an abbreviated season in 2020-21, so I was curious to see if there was any update on what’s to come or if plans have changed. Unsurprisingly, there hasn’t been anything new regarding the end of this current season or what to expect when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Has any decision been made regarding whether the remainder of the regular season will be played? Has any decision been made regarding what form the Stanley Cup Playoffs would take?
No. The form and format of resumption of play scenarios will depend entirely on what transpires between now and when we are permitted and able to resume — and, ultimately, on timing and taking into account logistical constraints. We are going to have to be flexible and react to events as they unfold as well as the best medical advice available.
What about the summer scenario that was pitched by the players? Would playing through what is normally the offseason affect the schedule in 2020-21?
If the NHL playoffs go into July and/or August, could there be a shortened regular season next year?
No. We do not anticipate a scenario in our resumption of play format that would endanger or interfere with the League’s ability to stage and execute the 2020-21 NHL season in its entirety.
If the current season is able to continue and it eats up the bulk of the offseason, it’s easy to wonder what would happen to the NHL Draft. Much like most things in life right now, there were no concrete answers as to what will happen with the event that was originally scheduled to be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal on June 26-27th.
Have any decisions been made regarding the 2020 Draft or Combine?
At this time, no decisions have been made regarding the timing or format of the NHL Draft or Combine.
Another question that has come up frequently on social media and in our comments section is what would happen to player contracts if the season extends past the current June 30th expiry date. As expected, the whole situation would require a hefty dose of compromise between the league and its players in terms of making that work for both side.
How will the League handle Player contracts that expire July 1 in the event the season’s end is delayed?
Any decision we make on the schedule and critical dates calendar during the off-season ultimately will be done in conjunction with the NHLPA and, in that context, the parties will discuss how best to accommodate the resumption of play determinations that are ultimately made.
The Board of Governors meeting just wrapped up but it doesn’t seem like any new information came out of it as recapped by Pierre LeBrun.
The league continues to work on all kind of different format/scheduling scenarios to prepare for all the possibilities but for now can't commit to anything because of the uncertainty…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 23, 2020
If you’re interested, there are more questions and answers in the release but I wanted to touch on a few specific items based on some of the things we’ve been talking about around here. While many of the answers are draped in uncertainty, an obvious byproduct of the ever-changing news when it comes to Coronavirus, I do appreciate that the NHL put out a little bit of information for fans that are trying to remain hopeful that hockey will resume again sometime soon. The reality of the situation, and everybody already knows this, is that trying to plan for the future is a fool’s errand and all we can really do is take things a day at a time and do what we all can to flatten the curve.
In addition to this quick press release, the NHL will be having a Board of Governors call this afternoon at 1 PM MT to discuss the state of the league and I’ll be curious to see if anything new comes from that call. Obviously, the NHL remains hopeful that they’ll be able to play hockey again but it’s hard to see how that happens when the news regarding COVID-19 can change so much by the day or even by the hour. Even so, I’m still keeping my spirits up that we’ll be able to watch hockey again soon (whatever that means) so that we can all have even a little bit of normalcy back in our lives. Then again, we’ll have to wait and see what this Board of Governors call is all about. We wait…