The NHL conducted a conference call with general managers to discuss the ongoing coronavirus crisis, but there are still plenty of questions.
Safety and health is the most important factor in the world right now. That fact is undisputed. For the National Hockey League, personal health and business have to coexist even with so many answered questions remaining.
On Saturday, the NHL held a conference call with all 31 general managers to talk about a wide array of topics. Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic broke down the details of this call according to his sources.
Topics of interest
The league heard from its medical professionals that recommended shutting the whole operation down entirely for a period of time. The professionals maintain that this is the best way to assess the health of the NHL community.
The NHL hasn’t had a positive COVID-19 test yet as of Saturday evening. Although it should be noted, not surprisingly, that certain NHL players have been tested and the NHL doesn’t have those results back yet.
The assumption is that the odds are the NHL will probably have some positive tests eventually. The league most likely would need some sort of mini-camp prior to restarting the season.
The league has inquired about the availability of team arenas through July. This indicates a willingness to stretch the Stanley Cup Playoffs into the summer if necessary. An area of concern here is the Summer Olympics (July 24 – Aug. 9).
Sure, hockey is only featured in the Winter Olympics, but the NHL could have a tough time finding viewers with the Olympics. Not to mention, the NBA playoffs will likely take place at the same time.
There was also no decision as to how the league will make its return. Will the NHL opt to have more regular season games as a tuneup for postseason play? Or will the league jump straight into the chase for the Cup?
The current standings pose a legitimate problem to beginning with the playoffs. Some teams have played more games than others. A possible scenario could be adding more teams to this year’s postseason to even out the game differential. Obviously, that will be dealt with once the league knows for sure when it will return to playing games.
There was one component left undiscussed because at the time, no announcement had been made.
The Center for Disease Control recommended that there should be no group gathering of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks. This would put a big kink into the league’s plans to have players slowly get back on the ice.
Players can travel to their home cities
The league informed players on Monday morning that they can return home to any country and must stay in self-quarantine until the end of March once they get there. That’s part of a new return-to-play plan that would see training camps potentially re-open in late April for playoffs that could run through late July.
The NHL has issued a new directive to players allowing them to go home, to any country, but they must stay in self-quarantine until the end of March once they arrive.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 16, 2020
The National Hockey League understands things are changing daily, even hourly with new information and—unfortunately—more positive test results.
Of course, health is much more important than any sporting event, but the NHL will have to resume play eventually. Still, it appears business will have to take a back seat until the country can get a handle on coronavirus.