There is movement on the “return to play” front as the NHL and NHLPA have organized a committee to address the matter.
Reports emerged from the New York Post’s Larry Brooks that a group of players and league staff are part of the committee. John Tavares, Connor McDavid, Mark Scheifele, and others are among the players, while Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, Colin Campbell, and others are representing the league. Don Fehr, Mathieu Schneider, divisional representative Steve Webb, and others are representing the NHLPA.
The goal is obviously to plot out a return to play for the NHL, which has been on “pause” since the coronavirus pandemic gripped the world.
The committee has held at least two conference calls over the past three days and meetings will follow on a regular schedule. Medical advisers are also included on the calls.
There are no specifics, but the sense is that progress is coming down the line – and that’s a good thing for those of us tired of watching reruns of old games on Sportsnet.
The goal, for now, is to discuss what Brooks described as “concepts,” which is sort of a broad sense of how to get back into the business of playing hockey. The league will have a lot on the line when there is a return to play, so things have to be planned out to the letter. If anything goes wrong, like a resurgence of COVID-19 among hockey players or any sort of unsafe working condition, the NHL will not come out well.
Imagine, for instance, a shutdown following a brief restart. If that’s the case, it’s probably better to shut down entirely and call off the season. The same goes for the discovery of a rash of positive tests for coronavirus among players or league officials. If that happens, we’ll have issues.
“Everything depends on the facts and entire set of circumstances, but no, we do not believe that one positive test, or even multiple positive tests [would] necessarily shut the whole thing down,” said deputy commissioner Daly on Friday.
Realistically, we’re probably several weeks away from hammering down details. This process will be a slow one and the clock is ticking, which means dreams of hockey returning this season should be taken with a serious grain of salt.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Kong