It seems like a lifetime ago that the NHL season was paused on March 12th. Ever since that day a debate has been raging in the hockey world. Either you think the show must go on or the season should just be canceled? Anyone who wants the season to continue wants it to be done as safely as possible. That is the keyword in all of this mess, safely. Right now the NHL is in the middle of Phase 2, just getting small groups back on the ice. But we are only a few weeks away from the early timetable set for the start of Phase 3. Phase 3 is the start of full training camps. With twenty-four teams getting ready for training camp as the virus seems to be entering a second wave the question still remains. Should we even try to finish the season?
The Show Must Go On
I am a firm believer that the NHL can pull this off. Just financially speaking the show must go on if the league hopes to avoid losing billions of dollars. Beyond the money, the players want to finish the season as well. If the players felt it was too great a risk they could have voted down the league’s plan. That would have been the end of the season and it’s on to 20-21. But they didn’t. The players want to play. They want a chance at winning the Stanley Cup, and who could blame them? Many of these players have been dreaming of the day they scored the OT Game 7 Cup winning goal all their lives. They all know it’s something they have a limited number of chances at.
Who Has Tested Positive
So far several teams have had players and staff test positive for COVID 19. The first reported cases came from the Ottawa Senators, where five unnamed players and one staff member tested positive. This news was followed by three unnamed players from the Colorado Avalanche, then one unnamed player from the Penguins. After that, it seemed to quiet down. More and more updates came out on the return to play process and excitement was again building for hockey to return.
Soon after the start of Phase 2 a staff member of the Arizona Coyotes tested positive, along with an unnamed player from our Boston Bruins. The Bruins player has since tested negative twice and has not been with his teammates at the rink. So a few positive tests here and there but nothing major. That was until today. This morning news broke of three Tampa Bay Lightning players and two staffers testing positive. This was followed by the news the team had shut down their practice facility.
Only a few hours later we had our first named player who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs. At the time of writing this, I don’t know if permission to use his name was even given in the original report. Since NHL guidelines have prevented any other players from being named I won’t be naming him in accordance with HIPAA laws. Since the start of Phase 2 the league has announced that eleven players have tested positive.
While these numbers are alarming it’s not something that should stop the season. With all staff and players being tested twice a week positive tests are a reality. It’s now up to the league to come up with a plan on what protocols should be to keep everyone safe. With three weeks until the earliest estimated start date for Phase 3 there is still time left. Time for players and staff who tested positive to recover and time for the league to create a plan on player movement in public. Possibly an even bigger obstacle than this virus is the status of the CBA. While it won’t be a complete CBA, more of a framework, it will still impact every player for years to come. Getting the protocols and the CBA finalized will be a huge step toward games coming back.
As I said I am a firm believer that the show must go on. However, it must be done with the safety of the players and staff as the paramount concern. The July 10th start of Phase 3 wasn’t set in stone for this reason. With some wiggle room to push things back, the league can still make the expanded playoffs happen. If you would like a more in-depth look this article from ESPN touches on several points I covered here . It should be able to answer any questions you still have on the league’s plans. With NHL news breaking there is probably some news on our other sports teams as well. Since you are already here why not check out their pages. As always stay safe go Bruins.