The novel coronavirus has crippled all sporting activities including hockey, the officials thought fast enough and came out with a phase 1 plan in March to help the sport come back to life, the plan included self-quarantine and isolation of players and staff. The phase 2 plan has been released through a 12-page memorandum by the national hockey league.
As part of the plan, players will be allowed to train in small groups of not more than six at team facilities. The memo was released by the League and NHL players association on Monday.
Though the League did not present the date for the comeback, they seem to be targeting early June. The League might change their mind along the way if things did not turn out as planned. “We will continue to monitor developments in each of the club’s markets and may adjust the overall timing if appropriate.”
A summary of the safety protocols put in place
Several safety protocols must be followed in regards to the new phase. Players and staff will be tested two days before the phase begins and will be tested at least twice a week. Pieces of equipment must be cleaned thoroughly between each player’s usage, which is essential since the virus travels through surfaces as well. Players and staffs must self- administrator temperature symptoms check every day, and anyone who develops symptoms or tests positive for the virus must be isolated.
“As an over-riding principle, testing of asymptomatic Players and Club personnel must be done in the context of excess testing capacity, to not deprive health care workers, vulnerable populations, and symptomatic individuals from necessary diagnostic tests (“Publicly Necessary Testing”),” the memo read. “Secondly, testing by its nature is for the early detection of infection and is not a replacement for the hygiene, distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting methods outlined in this framework that can help prevent infection in the first instance.”
Players must wear face masks all the time except during training and exercising on the ice. Skating or working out outside the designated location is strictly prohibited. Everyone must remain six feet apart; socialization between players is also forbidden.
A memorandum released by the League rules out safety measures to follow to return to sports as soon as possible.
The memorandum states that each national hockey league team will be allowed to have the same amount for each group session. The list includes one athletic trainer, one strength and conditioning coach, one equipment manager, one or two dressing room attendants, club’s physician(s) or on as-needed basis, one goalie coach(who the player hires, and who is not a club employee, but who must be subject to all the required safety and precautionary measures as “Player Access” Club personnel, including, but not limited to, testing, quarantine, daily temperature/symptom screenings, etc.)
The national hockey league says phase 2 is voluntary, and players are not to return to their playing city. The players who live in NHL markets who do not play for that team can also have access to that facility.
The NHL is aiming to host games in two or four “hub cities” in NHL markets. The League has reportedly narrowed its list down to eight or nine options, with Columbus and Las Vegas as favorites due to hotel availability and practice rinks being close to the arenas according to secondcityhockey.
The teams that fail to comply with the measures put in place to combat the coronavirus and bring the League back to life will face the consequences through penalties like paying fines, loss of draft choices, and ineligibility to participate in the resumption of play.
These are some tough consequences and some even tougher protocols to follow, but it will be necessary for teams and team officials to adhere to the measure; only then can one of the primary sources of entertainment return to the people.
If the hockey league can bounce back amidst the pandemic, it will be a good thing, it will not only favor the League, but the people who watch, it will help ease their frustration. While we wait for scientists to devise a cure for the virus, we have to play our part.