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The NHL Cannot Afford Another Week Like The One It Just Had

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Eleven NHL players have tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 began on June 8th. This should be a wake-up call to the league.

Chevy Desert Classic

The NHL needs to take a long look in the mirror and think about whether or not this season can continue.

WHERE WE ARE

Phase two began on June 8th, which means that players were to return to their team rinks. We’ve seen action at Rogers Place with a handful of skaters on the ice at a given time, still with social distancing measures in place. So far, so good, right?

Edmonton, you’ve done well. And though your provincial numbers have crept up slightly and should continue to be heavily monitored, (Alberta had 46 new cases from yesterday to today), there’s good reason to believe that the city would be a fine hub city should this season continue.

The problem? There’s significant cause for worry in other NHL cities, where there’s a varying level of concern from local authorities. When the league selects hub cities, a dozen teams will converge on that city from all over the US and Canada. With news yesterday of three players and two staff testing positive on the Tampa Bay Lightning, the NHL ought to think long and hard about whether it’s super important to try and jam the rest of the season in between now and September.

The league has eleven positive cases since Phase 2 began, which averages out to almost one a day. As previously mentioned, some cities are handling their business just fine. Others, are not. Right now, states that are home to playoff teams like Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and Florida are seeing huge surges - all of these states have had their highest recorded amount of cases yesterday or the day before.

And guess what?

There’s literally nothing that’s being done in these some of these states to try and stave off an outbreak.

I don’t know how long some of these states are going to do literally nothing to mitigate what’s happening, but I do know that if numbers in these states continue to go up, then the likelihood of players catching COVID-19 goes up. It’s not just a player concern, either. Coaches, trainers, equipment managers, and anyone around the team who might be in a higher risk pool could all be affected.

Let’s assume that everything goes right. How is this all supposed to work, anyway?

This is insane.

Two weeks of training camp would mean that teams would be required to convene on or about July 7th. You’re going to have clubs fully together in 24 NHL cities for a two week training camp. After that, they’re slated to hop on a plane to a hub city, play one exhibition game before the play-in round begins on July 30th.

This is absolutely so off-the-wall bonkers, crazy, whatever superlative you want to go with. The NHL’s got it partly right here; they’re isolating the teams in two hub cities (to be named this week). Unfortunately, areas where this outbreak is being poorly contained (or not contained at all) has the potential to cause havoc for lots of people involved.

CAN THIS GO OFF WITHOUT A HITCH?

Sure. Everything can go off right, we can hear no news about further positive cases, we have a training camp, a play-in series, and the league can award the Stanley Cup sometime in the fall. That’d be lots of fun, actually.

After this past week, I’m not so sure that’s going to be the case.