New York Ranger’s leading scorer Artemi Panarin raised the question of safety and health when he made a statement about the league’s Return to Play guidelines last week. He is not the only NHL player to talk about the risk of players returning to the ice with COVID-19 cases spiking across the United States.
Panarin’s statement covered a few topics that woke up the hockey world just 11 days away from the start of Phase 3 – Training Camp.
“I have concerns about the health of players and their families,” was how the Breadman brought to light his feeling about returning to play games during these unprecedented times. He was not alone in his concerns about health and well being of NHL players.
NHL Players share concerns of RTP
Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price added to the sentiment with the goaltender self-isolating along with his family in the state of Washington. Price recognized first hand just how serious the virus can be when his friend’s mother died recently after catching the virus.
Price said he has some questions that would need to be answered before he would agree to go back on the ice and compete in the playoffs.
“Health and safety is the biggest. Being able to come to a situation where you don’t have to worry about contracting COVID-19 is huge,” Price said in speaking to Douglas Gelevan of CBC.ca.
The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to the RTP guidelines, but there are plenty of things to be worked out before training camp can begin on July 10. What hub cities will be used, testing, travel to hotel arrangements have yet to be determined. For Price and others time away from their families is a key focal point to reaching an agreement.
“I have about an equal amount of optimism and pessimism,” he said. “It’s a very unusual situation. I want the opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup, but I want to be able [to] continue living life normally.”
Price believes it’s a 50-50 chance that an agreement can be made in order for training camp to begin.
Washington Capitals Defenseman Would Prefer To Cancel Season
Washington Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas made it clear in mid-May that he would rather not continue the season since there are no known medical treatments or vaccines against the virus. He told Jimmy Murphy of BostonHockeynow.com,
“If one guy is infected, basically the whole league has it in a week, given how they are planning to have everyone play against everyone. One stupid stumble and you can cancel it all again.”
Players who have underlying factors also have great concerns about returning to play. New York Rangers rookie Kaapo Kakko, who is a diabetic, will be playing with the team when the playoffs begin. The team, as well as Kakko, listened to the science and the medical people and determined that he would not have a greater chance of getting the virus, but might have a tougher time beating it if he should get it.
Players will have to evaluate their own situations and decide if it’s more important to try and win the elusive Stanley Cup or pass on the opportunity to help in preventing themselves and possibly their families from contracting a virus that hs proven to be fatal in so many across the world.
With the number of confirmed cases rising so quickly over the last seven days, the NHL will have to sit with the NHLPA and determine if they can both move forward without jeopardizing the health of players and league officials.
On Monday afternoon the NHL Public Relations department Issued a statement via their Twitter account which updated the current status of players who have been tested during Phase 2. The voluntary workouts at team facilities began on June 8 though there is no “bubble” for players to self-isolate in.
NHL statement on COVID-19 testing results: pic.twitter.com/HalBsLro77
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 29, 2020
The statement advised that a total of 250 players reported to team training facilities to partake in Phase 2 as of Monday. There have been in excess of 1,450 COVID-19 tests conducted to this group with 15 players testing positive for the virus. That is almost 5% of all layers tested u to this point.
This number doesn’t include the 11 additional players who tested positive outside of the Phase 2 protocol. All players have been self-isolating and are following CDC and Canada procedures.