Having been on pause since March 12, the NHL has finally begun the slow process to resume the season and let the players train.
The Scope of COVID-19 Spread in the NHL
While we can’t say that there have been a lot of coronavirus cases within the league, some athletes did get the disease. For example, ten unnamed players from three different teams have been diagnosed with COVID-19:
- Ottawa Senators: five players and one staff member.
- Colorado Avalanche: three players.
- Pittsburgh Penguins: one player.
We also know that Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz was infected in March. Recently, one player from the Boston Bruins tested positive for the coronavirus, but thankfully all of his teammates returned negative results.
Phase 2 Details
Phase 2 is the first stage out of the total four that involves players actually playing on ice. The phase allows teams to open the facilities for athletes to train in, but there are numerous limitations nonetheless.
First of all, masks are mandatory when entering the building and can only be removed while the players are on the ice or exercising. The former should involve no more than six players at a time, which should include appropriate social distancing.
It’s a major step towards the return of the game because up until now, barely any players had the ability to set foot on the ice since the lockdown.
Acknowledging that COVID-19 is more dangerous for the elderly and those with existing medical conditions, the league takes into account the risk of players potentially transmitting the disease to vulnerable family members and thus requires testing 48 hours before an athlete enters a facility.
Teams are encouraged to test everybody twice a week, and each player must perform a symptom check before heading to training. Those who are currently outside of their team’s city may take advantage of the facilities in their current area.
With limited training comes the next stage – Phase 3. The league announced it is to start on July 10th. With Phase 3, each of the 24 teams will have the ability to start a proper training camp.
Although there is no information regarding the date of Phase 4 (when the actual games will happen), it is safe to assume that if the current phase is executed properly there is a high chance of games returning in the next month or two.
Should NHL games resume now? Share your thoughts.
Also, you can read about How the NHL Will Hold the Competition for the Stanley Cup Trophy.