NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2020
The NHL releases its detailed next phase for its return-to-play protocol. Check out the highlights and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
Players can train in small groups of no more than six in the facility voluntarily. The training is non-contact and the players cannot skate or train in another facility. Players will be encouraged to shower at home.
Players must be tested for COVID-9 two days before reporting to their facilities. Players and staff must self-monitor temperature and symptoms daily. Anyone developing symptoms will be isolated. All players and staff must immediately notify the club medical staff if they suspect coming in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
Equipment must be thoroughly cleaned between each player’s usage.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports individuals traveling to their team’s cities by commercial air or rail must self-quarantine for 14 days immediately following their arrival. The same rule applies to those arriving from high-risk areas and those landing in areas where local authorities continue to impose a quarantine period for any travelers.
Teams will provide accommodation for those players (such as AHL players) who don’t maintain a residence in their club cities.
Fitness testing by the clubs is not permitted during this phase.
Non-essential personnel (media members, agents, massage therapists, etc) will not be permitted to enter the facilities. Player’s family members also won’t be permitted.
Johnston also reported players must undergo a pre-participation medical examination before they can begin skating. They also won’t be allowed to access saunas, hot tubs, or steam baths. Where possible, the team will assign a different athletic trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and equipment manager to each group of six.
Teams that fail to comply with the Phase 2 guidelines could face fines, loss of draft choices, or ineligibility to participate in the 24-team tournament.
TSN: Face coverings (cloth or surgical) will be worn at all times – except when exercising – when entering or leaving the club facility and inside the facility where social distancing cannot be maintained.
Coaches cannot be involved in on-ice training but can watch from the stands.
Players who live in NHL markets other than where they play will be permitted to use the facilities in that city, depending on availability, so they don’t have to travel back to their team’s home city for Phase 2.
While the league views this document as comprehensive, it acknowledged it cannot mitigate all risks. “A range of clinical scenarios exist, from very mild to fatal outcome,” the 22-page memo continued. “COVID-19 generally affects older age groups and those with previously existing medical conditions, more so than younger, and otherwise healthy, individuals.
“We recognize that players and personnel have family and household members who may fall into these vulnerable categories.”
Pierre LeBrun also noted the memo indicates the league is targeting a date in early June to transition to Phase 2. It has yet to be determined how long Phase 2 will last.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports if all goes well in negotiations between the league and the NHL Players’ Association and governing health officials, training camps (Phase 3) could begin by late June. That could put the league in position to resume play by the second or third week of July, with the Stanley Cup champion crowned in mid-to-late September.
The league and the PA are expected to resume negotiations today on an agreement covering all outstanding issues related to returning to action this summer.
THE SCORE: cites Minnesota Wild player rep Devan Dubnyk telling The Athletic’s Michael Russo the agreement on a 24-team tournament doesn’t mean hockey’s back. “We still have a long way to go,” he said.
Dubnyk indicated the two sides still must address the logistics of staging that tournament. The length of isolation away from families remains a concern for the players, as well as the quality and cost of accommodation, food and travel in the host cities, and the effect upon the league’s finances.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve cited the highlights of the league’s Phase 2 memorandum. The comprehensive document isn’t perfect, and I don’t doubt issues could arise that aren’t covered in the memo that will require immediate action. But as The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell observed, the attention to detail is impressive. This wasn’t something just slapped together within a few days.
How this phase unfolds will determine when the training-camp phase can begin. While NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has said a few positive COVID-19 cases aren’t enough to derail the process, it will remain a concern for the players and the staff. A significant spike in cases could derail Phase 2, jeopardizing the planned 24-team tournament.
IN OTHER NEWS…
WGR 550: cited TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie reporting the NHL Draft Lottery could be held on June 26. A date for the 2020 Draft has yet to be determined.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie took to Twitter indicating there are more questions than answers regarding the draft. “When will it be? How many teams? What format? Odds? For now, a lot more questions than answers. Not even the GMs who are in the lottery, or hope to be, seem to have many, if any, firm details on it.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lottery will likely be held in late-June, but I think the league will wait and see how things pan out with its tournament plan before announcing the date and the details for the draft.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes player rep Jordan Martinook confirmed his clubs was one of the two that voted against the 24-team format. The Tampa Bay Lightning was the other.
Martinook said he and his teammates had concerns the extra play-in round would lengthen the playoffs and their odds of winning the Stanley Cup. “It wasn’t like we didn’t want to play or anything,” he said. “It was just this particular option maybe didn’t benefit us. It’s just kind of the stance we took.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under the standings when the season was paused, the Hurricanes held the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.