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.
Of note: Players and team staff will be given a COVID-19 nasal swab test two days before starting Phase 2 training, and then will be tested at least twice per week afterwards. They must also self-administer a temperature and symptom check every day.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 25, 2020
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.