It’s been 11 days since the NHL paused its 2019-20 season and there’s still so much uncertainty about what comes next and how this ultimately ends.
The truth is that the NHL, along with every other sports league, has to stay nimble and keep all options on the table. On Sportsnet 590 the FAN’s Good Show last week, deputy commissioner Bill Daly explained the process the league is wrestling with right now.
“You need to have everything on the table,” he said. “You need to understand what would be feasible in a certain set of circumstances and what’s impossible in various circumstances. It’s really just understanding the possibilities and the landscape and then as things get decided and we move along and we understand a little bit better where we are and where we’re going to be, then you start kind of picking options.”
This has naturally led to all sorts of speculation and ideas about what the NHL could do. On Monday, the league published an updated Q&A regarding the coronavirus pause. It is still hopeful to re-open team training facilities about 45 days into the CDC’s recommended 60-day period to not have gatherings of 50 or more people, but as for other events on the schedule, nothing is set.
“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,” the league’s release said. “We are going to have to be flexible and react to events as they unfold as well as the best medical advice available.”
As for if the league could return to play in front of empty arenas when it’s deemed safe to do so, it said that it was “premature to say what the circumstances would be for resumption of play, but we are prepared to follow the direction of relevant health authorities.”
Even if the season ends up having to be cancelled, the NHL Draft would still need to go on in some form this summer. Currently scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal, the league said on Monday that it also hadn’t yet decided on how to proceed with that event.
“At this time, no decisions have been made regarding the timing or format of the NHL Draft or Combine.”
The league also reinforced its commitment to not shorten next season in any attempt to finish this one and that if this season did need to go into July, any of those decisions would be made in conjunction with the NHLPA as it tries to navigate contract and other implications.
The Q&A also confirmed that that two NHL players have tested positive for COVID-19 and that both are members of the Ottawa Senators. However, it confirmed both players were experiencing only mild symptoms and were in quarantine.
“The Senators’ medical staff identified persons who might have had close contact with the athletes during the relevant time period (just before and during the period when the players were symptomatic). Senators’ Players and staff have been isolated and instructed to monitor their health and to seek advice and care, as necessary, from Club medical staff.
“The health of the NHL’s Players, fans and community remains the League’s highest priority. The NHL will continue to do everything it can to ensure its players, staff, fans and the greater community remain safe and healthy during this time of uncertainty.”