The NHL has announced 26 players have tested positive for COVID-19 over the last three weeks.
This obviously doesn’t paint a total picture of the rate of infection among NHL players, but we do know that 15 of the cases announced Monday involve the voluntary small-group workouts while the other 11 came from players not yet subject to regular testing under protocol.
There are 250 players in the small-group workouts at NHL facilities and the league says it has tested in excess of 250 people at the facilities since Phase 2 opened up June 8.
“All players who have tested positive have been self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols,” the league said.
This announcement may have an impact on the league’s announcement of hub cities and the onset of Phase 3, which is the resumption of training camps on July 10. There is now an expectation that could be pushed back, but we don’t know anything concrete yet and most information is speculative.
Admittedly, the NHL could use a win but may not get one. The NHL draft lottery was broadly seen as a joke among most involved, with the top selection going to a placeholder team in an anticlimactic result that sums up just how lousy this year has been.
And now news of these cases, along with spiking cases in many parts of America and the NHL’s unreal rejection of Vancouver as a hub city, isn’t helping.
The NHL and NHLPA are expected to continue talks on hub cities into Monday night. Toronto and Edmonton are believed to be in the running still, while Chicago and Los Angeles are among the other rumoured finalists. Nothing, again, is certain.
Teams have been alerted that training camps may not be able to open until July 13, with players expected to spend about two weeks at training camp in their home markets until they move on to wherever the hub cities are.
Right now, we know that more than 400 NHLers are being tested at all. That means we can probably expect to see more positive results, which means we’ll probably see more holdups to the resumption of play.