The NHL looks poised to sign off on a 24-team playoff format to finish the 2019-20 season, but that is not the issue on the forefront of every players' mind. Lars Eller, for example, who will be welcoming a new addition to his family in August, finds himself thinking of the health risks of a return to play.
"How do you make it safe?" Eller told Rob Carlin on the Capitals Talk Podcast. "You don’t want to be locked in a hotel for a certain amount of time and being cut off from your family. We’re having a new addition to the family in August, right? So everybody’s in a different situation, may have different needs and some may have underlying medical conditions that put them at greater risk so there’s just a lot of things that have to come together for this to happen.
"But I think generally everyone is working towards the same goal, but at some point -- and I don’t think we’re at that point yet because there’s nothing to decide on now at this moment -- but at some point you’re going to have to ask at what cost are you going to play? And there’s a barrier there and I don’t know where it is, but I think we’re going to be flirting with it."
Eller absolutely wants to play hockey and wants the season to resume, but at what cost? That's the question he continues to grapple with as he contemplates hockey's eventual return to the season.
"We’re the ones putting ourselves at risk and potentially all our families," Eller said. "Personally, I’m going to have a newborn at home during this time so there’s a lot of factors that goes into such decision and that may vary from individual to individual on every team."
When it comes to the actual play, Eller's main concern is if the team would be able to play games prior to going into the playoffs. To him, that would be a sticking point.
But all of that seems very much secondary to the health and safety of the players and their families.
Said Eller, "Of course we want to make [playoffs] happen, but not at any cost."
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