NHL coach explains what he’s been told, what he’s doing during hiatus

NHL insider Justin Bourne joins Good Show with Ben Ennis (in studio) and J.D. Bunkis (via phone) to discuss why it will be much more challenging and unlikely for the NHL to salvage their season then any other of the major sports.

Just as NHL players have been allowed to leave the cities they play in for different locations, so too have members of coaching staffs. That said, a good number of bench bosses may not be on the move for the time being.

“I can’t speak for every team, but I think most teams, their staff is being told, ‘If you feel you need to go to your house outside your city, then go ahead,’” a member of one NHL staff told Sportsnet on Monday night. “I think most staffs will probably stay inside the city [where they work] unless they have a situation where their family is in a different city. I think most people, their full-time homes become where they’re coaching that year, but there will be the odd people who are leaving.”

Of course, coaches — as is the case with the players — are expected to self-quarantine in an attempt to steer clear of COVID-19. The contacted coach also confirmed that some of the European players on his club have returned to that continent. Because the situation around this global pandemic continues to rapidly evolve, it’s hard to know what the parameters will be for those Europeans when they attempt to re-enter North America some time down the road. For now, we know the Centre for Disease Control has recommended no gatherings of 50 or more people be held for at least eight weeks, a period of time that extends to May 10, and that the Canadian government has closed the border to most non-citizens.

As everyone wades through this new reality, the assistant said head coaches and GMs are in daily contact, with the rest of the staff connecting as needed. “The head coaches, GMs and owners are privy to information about the players right off the bat, then those guys disseminate information from there,” he said.

Though obviously unwanted, the hiatus does offer coaches a chance to work on some things — like, for example, prepping for development camps that will happen eventually — that can get lost in the typical grind of the season. Other than that, they are like everyone else, monitoring the news for developments.

“The information that everyone is getting online [and from other places], that’s basically the same information we’re getting,” he said, noting he believes the league, the National Hockey League Players’ Association and the clubs themselves have all taken appropriate measures in the face of this crisis. “The health of the players and their families trumps everything else. That’s not blowing smoke; they’re really good about it.”

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