New York Rangers, NHL, can handle players testing positive for COVID-19 when games resume

New York Rangers
Dec 8, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New York Rangers players celebrate a goal scored by New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) during the first period against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Rangers open their training camp with the rest of the NHL on July 10, players who should test positive for COVID-19 will not result in a massive shut down of the NHL per a statement by Commissioner Gary Bettman.

The Commissioner was a guest on an ESPN special airing Monday night.  In the interview hosted by Mike Greenberg,  reported by Andrew Gross of Newsday, Bettman along with other sports league leaders talked about how their sports are planning on returning to play following the suspension of games issued in early March.

Bettman told Greenberg, “If there’s one positive test, – again, this will be under the strict guidance of the medical people- that person will be isolated and we will be monitoring anybody, through contact tracing, that was in close proximity. Obviously for any sport, if you have a major outbreak it’s going to change everything. But we’re being told that an isolated case or a couple of isolated cases shouldn’t interfere with the plans and we should be able to move forward.”

The Rangers have begun voluntary workouts at their team facility in Tarrytown, NY. when the league began Phase 2 of their Return to Play plans on June 8. Chris Kreider, Adam Fox, Marc Staal, Brendan Lemieux, and Artemi Panarin have been on the ice in different sessions with more to follow as players find their way back to New York.

Once the league begins the playoffs, testing will be of the utmost importance, with the NHL commissioner stating that the league will test all players and members of the 24 teams participating daily. That is approximately 25,000-30,000 administered tests.

The Rangers won’t know where they will be playing their games until sometime in July with the NHL and NHLPA still discussing different venues. Las Vegas has been a popular mention for a hub city. The NHL still would like to have a hub city come out of Canada, but that may be a difficult trick to pull off if the Canadian government insists on a 14-day quarantine once players head to their country.

“If players would have to quarantine for 14 days between training camp and going to the hub, that wouldn’t work,” Bettman told Greenberg.

There are so many issues yet to be decided before the league is able to begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they have time on their side. The NHL is willing to extend this current season well into October or November if need be. The NHL realizes fans won’t be able to attend games in such places as Madison Square Garden or any other NHL arenas for a long period of time.

The league is willing to sacrifice the start of the 2020-2021 season until December or even January 2021 if they feel they can have fans attend games next season.

In the meantime, The Blueshirts will continue to hold voluntary workouts and begin to recall all of their players across the United States and overseas to retune home in the next weeks or so. Some like Henrik Lundqvist and Mika Zibanejad will have to sit in a 14-day quarantine when they arrive from their home countries per CDC and state guidelines.

Igor Shesterkin and his teammates are scheduled to face the Carolina Hurricanes in their Qualifying Round when the season returns to play.

Watching Rangers hockey and their chance to make a run at the Stankey Cup is a great thought, but there can be several issues that could derail their journey. The team will have to follow the guidelines and hope that the emergence of the pandemic doesn’t return.