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The rising number of COVID-19 cases is causing alarm throughout the NHL.
Nearly 30 players and staff personnel were added to the league’s COVID-19 procedures in little over 36 hours (from early Monday to Tuesday evening). The Minnesota Wild and Carolina Hurricanes’ game on Tuesday was postponed due to COVID-19, one day after the Calgary Flames’ season was halted due to an organizational epidemic.
The scenario might alter at any moment. Emily Kaplan, Kristen Shilton, and Greg Wyshynski address some of the most often asked questions regarding the NHL’s current state, what the season may hold, and how COVID-19 concerns may affect the NHL’s Olympic participation.
So far this season, how many games have been postponed?
Greg Wyshynski: I’m Greg Wyshynski, and I’m The NHL has postponed nine games this season as of Tuesday night due to “mini-clusters” of infections on four different clubs. From Nov. 16 to 20, the Ottawa Senators had three games postponed (at New Jersey, at home against the Nashville Predators, and at home against the New York Rangers). On November 28 (Rangers) and November 30 (Canadiens), the New York Islanders were forced to cancel two road games (Philadelphia Flyers). The NHL put an end to the Calgary Flames’ season just as they were set to go on a cross-country road trip, delaying games in Chicago and Nashville on Monday and Tuesday, as well as a home game against Toronto on Thursday. Finally, Tuesday’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Minnesota Wild has been postponed.
Will the NHL/NHLPA change their procedures as a result of this?
Emily Kaplan (Emily Kaplan): On Tuesday night, the two parties spoke with their physicians and will address the situation again on Wednesday. The league is likely to implement stronger procedures, as we saw last season. Players will be examined daily (rather than every third day), masks will be enforced at all times, virtual meetings will be held, and players’ activities and relationships outside of the rink will be limited.
Is there a danger the league may put the season on hold once more?
Emily Kaplan (Emily Kaplan): The NHL is not planning a hiatus at this time. That is considered a last option by the league. The league is seeking out a method to play despite the epidemic of instances, especially because most players who test positive have minor to no symptoms.
Who are some of the current players/coaches in the COVID protocol?
After the team’s defeat Tuesday night, Edmonton Oilers coach Dave Tippett was put in protocol, according to ESPN.com. A number of Carolina Hurricanes players are presently in protocol, including Sebastian Aho, and the team’s game against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday has been postponed. Brad Marchand and Craig Smith of the Boston Bruins were put in protocol on Tuesday.
The Calgary Flames have had three games postponed due to a number of players in the protocol.
What is the difference between the current rush of players and personnel undergoing COVID-19 procedure and what we witnessed last season?
Kristen Shilton: This season’s circumstance is quite different from previous year’s.
To begin with, the entire NHL has been vaccinated, with the exception of Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who has rejected the vaccination. While athletes and staff members tested positive, the symptoms described by people were often minor or nonexistent.
Last spring, when COVID-19 ravaged the Vancouver Canucks’ organization, numerous players, including coach Travis Green, were overcome by crippling symptoms.
Some athletes, such as Milan Lucic, have already gotten booster injections (although Lucic still tested positive this week). It’s possible that other players may follow suit and get their third dosage sooner rather than later.
As a result, fully immunized athletes and personnel have not been subjected to the same stringent procedures as before. The changing rooms were more spacious last season, and players were required to wear masks at all times and exercise physical distancing. Fully vaccinated participants are no longer bound by the same rules, which is inconvenient at times like these, when the virus is fast spreading.
Then there’s the fact that every NHL club will be traveling more this season. As a consequence, there are more interactions with other individuals, more potential for spread, and more control challenges.
And, as one player pointed out Tuesday night, many of the players have greater contact with their spouses and children than they had last year. Schools have reopened across the board, and some workplaces have reopened as well. These interactions provide up new opportunities for gamers who weren’t available earlier, when virtual learning and work from home were popular.
Basically, there isn’t a single person to blame. However, until the coronavirus spreads less, the NHL may benefit by re-initiating treatments.
What happens if a player from an American squad tests positive in Canada or the other way around?
Kristen Shilton: If a player or staff member tests positive in Canada, the rules are different than in the United States.
The NHL’s COVID-19 procedure states that a person must quarantine in a specified local hotel wherever they are when they test positive. Any positive test in Canada, however, is subject to a 14-day quarantine. After testing positive during the Hurricanes’ stop against the Canucks, Carolina Hurricanes players Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis, as well as a club worker, were required to remain in Vancouver (perhaps for two weeks).
When Hurricanes teammates Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, Ian Cole, and Steven Lorentz tested positive in Minnesota, they were placed in an isolation facility “for the time being,” according to the organization.
The Hurricanes were still attempting to organize an emergency medical transfer for the three in Vancouver as of Tuesday night.
Don Waddell, the Hurricanes’ general manager, told The Athletic on Tuesday that bringing everyone back home is a priority “We’re working on those issues right now because we’ve got three players there and four in Minnesota. Maybe we’ll be able to bring them all back together.”
What is the present state of mind towards Olympic participation?
Greg Wyshynski: The NHL’s players’ participation in the Beijing Olympics was collectively negotiated last year, and they’re sticking to it — as long as COVID-19 doesn’t create a “substantial disruption” to the regular season in 2021-22. “If it became evident that we couldn’t reschedule without doing something else, including [using] some portion of the break,” Bettman added, the league would pull the plug on their participation. The NHL isn’t stating what constitutes a “substantial interruption” of the season, other than to suggest that we aren’t there yet.
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The main fear among the athletes is contracting COVID-19 while competing in the Olympics. A symptomatic player would be transferred to a hospital in Beijing, while an asymptomatic player would be sent to an isolation facility, according to the existing “playbook” issued to players by the Beijing Organizing Committee.
If asymptomatic athletes continue to show no symptoms after two consecutive negative COVID-19 test results at least 24 hours apart, they will be released, however they will be subjected to stricter COVID-19 standards. Athletes who show symptoms, on the other hand, might be in for a long stay in China.
Athletes can be released from the hospital if their body temperature returns to normal for three days in a row; their respiratory symptoms improve significantly, as evidenced by lung imaging; they have two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests within 24 hours of each other; and they have no other COVID-19 symptoms. They’ll still require the permission of a Chinese medical expert panel before being released.
While it isn’t explicitly stated in the rulebook, the NHLPA has informed players that a symptomatic athlete in a hospital may be quarantined for three to five weeks. Granted, recuperation times may be quicker, but this is the realistic range the players are hearing from the union — particularly because every release from quarantine must be approved by the medical panel.
This might entail spending more than a month and a half away from loved ones in a Chinese quarantine facility, as well as a hefty financial cost. Players who contract COVID-19 while in Beijing will not be compensated for any missed practices or games during the NHL Olympic break, according to an agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA. There’s a $5 million fund set up by the International Ice Hockey Federation to compensate for the missed wages. However, after that’s gone, gamers won’t be paid for the time they’ve missed.
On a few issues, such as the location of these quarantine facilities, the NHLPA is still waiting to hear from the Beijing organizers. It’s also waiting to hear if a diseased or wounded athlete may leave China and return to North America to recover.
What are the deadlines for making an Olympic decision?
Greg Wyshynski: It was thought that Jan. 10, 2022, would be a turning point for NHL participation, since any withdrawal after that date would result in financial penalties for the league. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly, on the other hand, said Jan. 10 “had to do with financial accountability for expenditures at that specific moment and time,” and that a decision may be made later.
Don Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, is hoping for answers by January 10. “By that date, I’d hope to be able to state. Even if the answer is yes, it is conditional on nothing else happening [after that] “he said “Unless anything unexpected occurs, the plan is for us to leave immediately.”
The longer this uncertainty persists, the more countries competing in the Beijing men’s hockey competition will need to devise a Plan B. Bill Guerin, Squad USA’s general manager, and his staff are keeping a watch on AHL and NCAA players, as well as those who play in other leagues, for a quickly assembled alternative team, but they certainly hope the NHL players will make the trip. For a taste of what Canada’s Plan B lineup would look like, go no farther than the forthcoming Channel One Cup: former NHLers Ryan Spooner, Eric Fehr, and Jason Demers, managed by former Canadiens coach Claude Julien and Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton.
Is there any ‘wiggle space’ in the schedule for further postponed games?
Greg Wyshynski: I’m Greg Wyshynski, and I’m Some of these will be made up throughout the season. Two of the nine games that had been postponed have been rescheduled as of Tuesday night. Regrettably, the Olympic break gives the greatest wriggle space. The NHL chose not to add time to the conclusion of the season to make up for postponed games, like it did in 2021. The regular season concludes on April 29. On May 2, the Stanley Cup playoffs began. That timing might change, but in the first year of a new broadcast agreement with two U.S. networks, pushing the playoffs much further into the summer is definitely not ideal. The date for a possible Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final is currently set for June 30.
What might the league do during the Olympic break? The NHL has developed a “shadow schedule” that includes a one-week vacation (to let those non-Olympic, non-All-Star players to travel to Maui with their families) and certain games that have been moved forward from later in the season. However, there is a difficulty with building availability. In the event that the players do not travel to Beijing, the NHL advised its venues not to schedule activities during the Olympic break. However, venues have also suffered significant financial losses as a result of the epidemic, and have exploited the opportunity to reschedule tours and book new artists.
For example, during the NHL break, Madison Square Garden will host 11 concerts by performers ranging from Billie Eilish to Elton John, as well as three Knicks games. The Staples Center will host 16 events, including Lakers and Clippers games as well as three days of Super Bowl entertainment.
What are the players’ thoughts on competing in the Olympics? Is there anybody else who has opted out?
Only goaltender Robin Lehner, a lock for Team Sweden, has openly said that he would refuse an offer to compete in the Olympics at this time.
However, some players in the league have began to voice their concerns about the uncertainty and the likelihood of a protracted quarantine in China due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases.
Connor McDavid, the captain of the Edmonton Oilers and one of three players already selected to Team Canada, told reporters on Tuesday that he is looking forward to the Olympics “It’ll undoubtedly be a very fluid scenario. There hasn’t been much information released, and there’s also the three- to five-week [quarantine] period. It’s been circulating about for a while now. If that’s the case when you walk over there, it’s obviously disconcerting.”
Despite this, McDavid’s ambition to represent his nation remained strong.
He stated, “I’m still a person who wants to play in the Olympics.” “However, we must ensure that it is safe for everyone. Not only for hockey players, but for all sportsmen.”
Alex Pietrangelo, who was also nominated to Team Canada, expressed his worries to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday.
“I have four kids under the age of three and a half,” he said. “That’s a long time to be away from my family, especially if I’m locked up there for five weeks plus the Olympics. I’m not going to make a choice until we have all of the answers, which are currently difficult to come by. As a result, we’re all sort of waiting.”
On Monday, Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, who was named to Team Canada for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, expressed his own apprehension about traveling to Beijing.
“I believe we all want to go,” he told reporters, “but obviously I think things are a little bit more unsettled than they were.” “We have a few queries that we’d want to investigate and get addressed. With things as they are now, there will undoubtedly be some obstacles and problems. I’m definitely a bit more nervous now than I was a few weeks or months ago.”
Following the current surge of positive cases around the NHL, it seems that more players will continue to speak out.
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