By Mary Cunningham
So, the Flyers and the rest of the NHL are preparing to re-start the 2019-20 regular season and crown a Stanley Cup champ.
But unlike the NBA, they are stopping short on health:
While the number of positive COVID-19 tests has been on the rise in the United States, the NHL isn’t planning on placing teams in quarantined “bubbles” when training camps open on July 10.
According to the Associated Press, the league is informing players that they should stay home when they’re not practicing and hope that outbreaks can be prevented with frequent testing.
“I’m pretty confident that once we get into hub cities, we’ll be able to do a good job of keeping it out,” Toronto Maple Leafs forward and player rep Jason Spezza told the AP. “I think getting there is going to be the challenge, and that’s where it takes a little bit of discipline for us as players to make sure we don’t kind of derail the plans.”
Last month, the league announced a return-to-play scenario that includes a 24-team playoff format in order to crown a Stanley Cup champion. Players, coaches, and staff members will be quarantined while the playoffs are going on. Once games begin during the play-in tournament, players are going to tested on a daily basis.
The NHL’s two hub cities — where the “bubble” environments will exist — have not been announced yet. The list of potential hub cities has been narrowed down to to Chicago, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Toronto. According to a New York Post report from June 20, the league is supposed to finalize the two hub cities “within the next week or so,” so a decision could be happening very soon.
It’s expected that teams will arrive in their respective hub cities beginning around July 23 or 24.
“There’s lots of people everywhere testing positive,” Spezza said. “Us as players, we realize there’s going to be some risk of a positive test, especially in the phases that we’re in right now.”
According to a June 19 report from ESPN, 11 of the 200 players who have taken COVID-19 tests since training facilities opened on June 8 tested positive for the virus.