Around the League

NHL plans phase 2 as New York opens professional sports preparations

One day after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York state (not the city) can re-open for sports teams to assemble and practice with the proper precautions of course, the NHL announced its Phase 2 plans for re-launching the league. The NHL is, as far as I know, the only team sports league (NBA, MLS, MLB) that has an announced plan to return to action. Golf and Nascar will also resume in June.

As for the NHL, details are a little light on the 24 team playoffs aside from the format. The league is at least setting some precautions to attempt to keep the players safe.

This is a big piece here, as players will need to adhere to both mandated testing and self testing. Mandated testing is one thing, and relative straight forward, but self testing has the potential to be disastrous. Let’s remember that this is a league that did nothing as the mumps ran through the league barely six years ago. This is also a league that didn’t recognize concussions are a legitimate injury until a few years ago, and has a terrible concussion protocol in place that is barely followed.

While the league has a bad track record with managing virus outbreaks amongst its players, the players themselves are atrocious with self care. All that stuff we take pride in the players for – playing through injuries, breaking a jaw and coming back two shifts later; finishing a shift on a broken leg; playing with one ACL – that’s all something that doesn’t bode well for self imposed testing.

The caveat here is that those injuries impact only the player, not the rest of the league. The coronavirus is highly contagious, and I’d like to think that players recognize that if they show symptoms, they could potentially get every single teammate sick. The players are human after all.

It’s worth noting that as of now, every player returning to the ice has to do so in a controlled atmosphere. That means no contact, cardio only, with limited rehab/treatment staff onsite as well. No coaching staff is allowed onsite.

The Rangers do not practice in New York City, actually no professional teams practice within city limits. So they are allowed to begin practicing under these guidelines. I’d expect to see some of these guys return to the ice as soon as they can.

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  • 1) NASCAR has already resumed… just without fans in the stands.
    2) WNBA also has not announced current plans.
    3) The Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty practice at the Nets’ HSS Training Facility in Brooklyn (which obviously is part of New York City)

  • I’m sure every NHL fan wants to see hockey back. I certainly do. The big negative is that players are infected with COVID. The big positive is that the Rangers might very well win it all in this truncated playoffs. If we play or don’t play, I’m okay either way. But for sure I am looking forward to opening day in October for the 2020/21 season.

  • I am rather conflicted. Selfishly, I of course would love to be able to watch the Rangers play, or hockey games in general. But, I am concerned for the health of the young men and their families and friends. Until such time that a vaccine becomes available social interactions can be risky. This is particularly true in a sport where players are often in very close contact with each other.

    So, while I like many others would like to see hockey now, I’d rather the players be safe. I also don’t want to see next season disturbed by anything the NHL does now.

  • 25 people, who have all been tested negative can do things together. Frequent testing and much better sanitary habits can prevent any infections from spreading. Hoping that the NHL puts stringent policies in place before the puck drops.

  • Clearly social distancing in a sport like Hockey is impossible — unless we want to see the ultimate version Pond Hockey. 😉 I think compared to a number of other “group” activities the risks here are minimal, but clearly Dave makes a good point about self-testing, that’s not good enough.

    We can’t live IN fear all the time, instead we need to channel the fear and create systematic solutions to prevent the spread of the virus — that means the use of all smart and pointed protocols that take into account what we know about this particular virus. In the end it’s a small price to pay to ensure both our own safety as well as the safety of others.

    This can be done, it just requires a lot of extra precautions and an increased cost —- plus the consent of everyone involved. One thing I would call for is that players wear full shields.

    • It may be possible for them to do it safely, but, it is tricky. Obviously stringent testing is necessary for the good of all involved.

      • I’m like you Peter, conflicted …. but I firmly believe that safety in this case, although never rising to the level of perfection, can be achieved. It’s just a matter of will and following the science, while always erring on the side of extra precautions.

        We’re only as safe as our weakest link — and it pains me to see the cavalier attitude some people are exhibiting. I mean is it such a burden to wear a mask and gloves at all times outside of the house and to try and maintain as much distance from other people as possible?

  • You can choose to live you life in fear and be crippled by the small possibility that infection will spread or you can take positive steps forward and understand that the actual probability of being infected is truly quite low.

    No one is suggesting that many people did not get sick. What is difficult to remember is that much of the rise happened before social distancing, masks and better sanitary habits.

    We need to get back to work, back to school and back to normal. Some politicians in NY have their own agenda, and that is a bigger problem.

    • If you saw the scenes in Savannah, Georgia this past weekend, with people gathered in close groups without masks all along River Street, as if social distancing was a thing of the past, you might understand why there are those of us who are concerned. Understandably people want to get back to normal, but being cavalier about the virus is not the way to go. Yet, many are doing just that.

      My daughter has been accepted to Princeton and she is supposed to start this fall. However, the university has not yet determined whether they will have in person or online classes to start. This is understandable because the Trenton-Princeton area was hit hard. We need to be cautious to ensure the health of everyone.

      That being said, if the NHL takes the risk to the players seriously and sets up a system by which they can truly be kept safe, I’d be for it. I love hockey but I want the people who play the sport to be around and with us for a long time.

  • My conflicts:

    Wanting hockey, especially Ranger hockey.
    We need to move forward and not hibernate.
    Maybe being able to go to a game again, at some point.

        I fear for you four. Makes no sense to take any chances. You know the risks, you know the idiots, you know the odds. I would hate for you to be on a ventilator sucking your last breadths with or without the playoffs.

    • We can’t lose control, but we need to live. Individually people take risks all the time to make life more enjoyable. Some people actually smoke and frankly would not want to live if they couldn’t. I don’t want to see hockey players take unreasonable risks on my behalf, but I think they really want to play. They have short enough careers without losing a chunk of it.

      Unfortunately, and this is not a political comment, I fear too many people are choosing to support greater or less opening of society based on their opinion of Trump.

      • Ray, Trump is an dishonest lying idiot. An embarrassment as President. He will go down in history as the biggest moron ever to hold a public office.

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