Last Thursday, when the NHL officially suspended the 2019-20 regular season amid the rising concerns of the coronavirus outbreak, the league stated that its goal is to "resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup."
If the NHL is to reach its goal, it's going to take some serious time and rescheduling.
The league released an update Monday of its plans regarding player activity, a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the following recommendation:
Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.
Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
The NHL has given players the option to return home (outside of their club's home city) and is aiming to open “a training camp period roughly 45 days into the 60-day period covered by the CDC’s directive," the league stated in its update.
Update from the NHL regarding player activity and movement during season pause: pic.twitter.com/yeFjII7W49— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 16, 2020
Forty-five days from the CDC's directive Sunday would slate training camp to begin April 29. The regular season was originally scheduled to wrap up April 4 with the Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning April 8.
How all of this impacts the league calendar entering the summer is a whole different issue. Last season, with an unimpeded schedule, the Stanley Cup Final finished June 12 and the 2019 NHL draft was held nine days later from June 21-22. This season, the NHL draft is scheduled for June 26-27, followed obviously by the NHL free agency period opening July 1.
The Flyers are in second place of the Metropolitan Division and one point behind the first-place Capitals with 13 games left on their schedule. According to Hockey-Reference.com, the Flyers entered Monday with a 99.7 percent chance to make the playoffs, 30.5 percent chance to win the Metro and projected to finish with 104 to 105 points.
Time will tell what the Flyers actually have left to accomplish in 2019-20.
The AHL announced a protocol similar to the NHL's Monday.
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