The plans are beginning to take on a little more shape for NHL players eventually getting back to work.
If everything progresses at the current pace in a positive direction, there could be NHL players practicing at team facilities during the month of May. That means there could be NHL games at some point in June or July and potentially Stanley Cup Playoffs in the summertime played in front of empty arenas at designated spots across North America.
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One component of the NHL season resuming may be that players, coaches, managers and game officials need to remain in quarantine for the duration of their team’s involvement in the regular season and postseason. One variation on that quarantine could involve the players being separated from their families while they play out the season in order to prevent anyone from unknowingly transmitting the coronavirus.
Many players would be separated from their families simply by virtue of all NHL games being played at four designated locations across the league, even if the quarantine factor never came into play.
Torey Krug talked a little about that one particular aspect of resuming the NHL season, and it sounds like that’s going to be a tough sell for the NHLPA when any return date is discussed. Interestingly enough, Krug gets a bit more of the in-depth discussion between the players and the league given his standing as one of the Bruins player NHLPA reps.
“We’re in constant communication receiving updates when we can get them,” said Krug, who serves in tandem with Brandon Carlo as Bruins team reps for the NHLPA. “A lot of is some of the stuff that everybody sees on social media. We’re obviously very hopeful that we can return to play. Some of the potential resume-to-play options are on the table and if we’re able to do it then I just hope we’re able to do it in a very safe and logical way so that we don’t put anybody at risk.
“I think guys want to be with their families at this time, so it would be tough to tear guys away from their families. And things like that. There are so many hurdles to be jumped over in order for us to get running again. Who knows if it will happen? If it does, that would be awesome. We all want a chance to get back and play. If it doesn’t, then it means we’re all taking the steps to get back when we can all be safe and healthy, and then attacking it at a different time.”
Ultimately, the NHL players have signed contracts to finish out the regular season and the playoffs, and they would be compelled to do so if the entire NHLPA membership signed off on a return to action in the coming months.
But Krug was far from the only NHL player who's voiced hesitation about being separated from their family if the season were to resume. A couple of Montreal Canadiens players had Zoom calls with the Habs media in the last week and expressed a preference to punting on the rest of this season since they weren’t going to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“Some players could be away from their families for 3-4 months and I think that's way too much,” said Montreal forward Philip Danault. “I'm not the only one thinking like that, I'm sure."
What does all this mean?
For all the optimism out there that the Stanley Cup will be awarded over the summer, there are still lot of important details to work out while hoping that the coronavirus outbreak continues to flatten in the places hit worst by the global pandemic.