Key problem with coronavirus testing for possible NHL season restart


Frequent testing would be an important part of any scenario considered by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association to resume the season, which was halted on March 12 due to concerns over the coronavirus.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly discussed the issue and others in two radio interviews on Friday.

“We’re going to need to have access to the tests, and we’re going to make sure that we don’t have access to the tests, even privately, if test availability is an issue in the community,” said Daly. 630 CHED in Edmonton. “We will not test asymptomatic players before symptomatic people who cannot be tested. It’s just something we will not do. “

Daly told TSN 1050 in Toronto that the actual test protocol has yet to be determined.

“There are a number of potential solutions that are [pitched] for us and for the other sports leagues and other organizations every day, and I would say that this is an important part of the process in terms of making sure that you carefully consider this and that you understand the test solution you are adopting “Said Daly.

Daly told TSN 1050 that a number of cities and NHL sites have approached the League about hosting games if the NHL decides to play in centralized locations, and confirmed to CHED that Edmonton is “definitely in the mix”.

Daly told TSN 1050 that a community would need the capacity of a testing program as well as a first class arena, training ice, hotel capacity and the capacity secure access.

“Not all communities will likely be where they can allow discretionary player testing,” said Daly.

“… Another box in the checklist you need to check is this, is it supported by the type of local health authorities? Is this something that the community welcomes and thinks is a positive element in recovering from what we are currently going through?

“… We are really checking all of these clubs, communities and any site issues that would be associated with this. “

The NHL and NHLPA have formed a Return to Play committee made up of managers and players. Daly told CHED that the NHL has made it clear to players that it understands the problem of family separation if teams play in centralized locations.

“We do not expect them to be isolated and away from their families for a period of four months or a period of three months or even a period of two months,” he said. “We understand the importance of some kind of family interaction, and we will find a way to respond to it. “

Daly told TSN 1050 that if the NHL played fanless games, it would open up opportunities to increase the use of technology via television and digital media.

“Clearly, we are looking to exploit this opportunity and we will try to maximize the fan experience,” said the Deputy Commissioner. “If you can’t be in the building, which is an incomparable experience for the fans, I think, for live sports in general, but in particular for our sport, I think you have to be creative using technology to, as I said, maximize the fan experience and bring them closer to the game, closer to personalities than ever. “

The NHL launched the idea for general managers to organize the 2020 NHL Entry Draft in June before the end of the regular season. Daly told CHED that the League believes there are benefits. The teams are ready. The NHL does not want to shoehorn the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and Entry Draft in a tight time frame. Holding the project in June would be an opportunity for fan engagement.

But there are complications, like the conditional picks determined by the regular season and the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“Nothing will be perfect,” said Daly. “We haven’t made a decision on this yet, but we will obviously have to make a decision in the near future. “

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the NHL Network on Thursday that the league would consider starting next season in November or December.

When asked how it would affect the schedule, Daly told TSN 1050: “It depends on a whole host of things, including the availability of buildings during the following summer, when we want to finish our summer season. next, if we are to condense the normal schedule significantly.

“But … in this type of scenario, I guess we would be looking for ways to make … the day count as low as possible. You need to look for where in the calendar you might be able to create these types of opportunities, and we will do so when appropriate. But [the NHL All-Star Game] and a five-day break and all of these things would be sort of normal considerations that should be weighed if we go this route. “

The League and players’ association re-entered discussions on the NHL / NHLPA collective bargaining agreement shortly before the season ended, the agreement expiring after the 2021-2022 season. They have focused on the coronavirus situation but may engage again.

“This certainly provides an opportunity to start and speed up these talks, I think in some ways,” said Daly to TSN 1050. “Although we are not there yet on the merits because we have a lot of other things, we are working, I think there is a will and an interest on both sides to pursue. ”


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