The New York Rangers and the NHL Face Some Hurdles Before They Can Return

Jim Bay
New York Rangers, Mika Zibanejad
Feb 28, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

While the New York Rangers are more than happy to resume this season, there are still many details that need to be worked out in order for the Blueshirts and the rest of the NHL teams to return to action. That includes more than just the format that the NHLPA mentioned in their cryptic announcement when they have accepted the league’s proposal to have a 24 team tournament. Here are some of the stumbling blocks:

Testing of Players and Staff

The NHL is facing the same questions that the other leagues are facing if they want to return. How often do we test? What happens if someone tests positive? Are we taking tests away from the general public? How often do we do temperature checks? The first thing to realize is that none of this will happen if we see a spike in the number of cases in the coming weeks. Most pundits believe that if everything is worked out, training camps might begin at the end of June or in early July. There are still some players wondering if they should even return this year at all. A further spike in cases in either country might shut the whole thing down.

Hub Cities and Lifestyle

The NHL will more than likely use hub communities to host at least most of the tournaments. There are locations around the United States and Canada that have been hit less hard by COVID-19 than in other parts. Two of the leading contenders for hubs are Las Vegas and Edmonton. The players are concerned about what life will be like for them in these hubs. Many have expressed a desire to not be away from their families for months at a time. They also may not be too happy with being confined to an area and needing team permission to leave their hotel, like MLB wants to implement for their players.

Most are fairly sure that Rangers players can keep themselves occupied in Las Vegas. But what if they are assigned to Edmonton? Darren Dreger of TSN reports that Edmonton has made a huge push for being a host city, coming up with a plan to make the lifestyle bearable for players and possibly family that might be there. Dreger reported that Edmonton has touted its cooler temperatures, along with providing secure golf courses and setting up outdoor big screens for movies and other games as a way to make their location attractable.

The biggest issue against Edmonton and any other potential Canadian city hub is the mandatory 14-day quarantine that is imposed on anyone entering Canada. Many players have said privately that they would not like to do that.

Where will training camps take place

Will the New York Rangers train in the New York City area before heading off to a hub? The issue could be that some players may have to cross three borders in order to play, something that carries some difficulty. You may see a player travel from Europe to the U.S., and then to Canada, something that many health experts recommend against.

Players’ Work Visas

NHL players who come in from other countries on a work visa will see them expire on June 30. One would think that the respective governments would take care of this but they are quite busy at the time being. It is not a sure thing that it will just happen overnight.

Most believe that all of this will be taken care of and that we will see the New York Rangers in NHL action sometime this summer. It will just take a lot of work to make it happen.