NHL teams face health and safety challenges when training camps open

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The words of Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano carry enormous weight for his colleagues in the sanitized locker rooms of the Scotiabank Saddledome.In fact, the advice of the 36-year-old Norris Trophy winner is important to the players of the 24 clubs who started training camp on Monday, before expanding to this year’s playoff competition.

“If you do something or go somewhere that you are not supposed to be and put yourself in danger, you risk risking your entire team,” Giordano said during a videoconference with journalists.

During training camp, players are free to do whatever they want when they leave the ice. There is no bubble, because on July 26, the teams will present themselves in their respective center cities in Edmonton and Toronto.

But Giordano thinks it is better to proceed with the greatest caution.

“Right now, you have to be smart. I know there are certain things guys have to do and obligations. But for the most part, the message – to me and all the other guys, we all understand – is to stay home and stay safe as much as possible. Let’s make sure we arrive in the central city with all our healthy team. ”

WATCH | Are the bubbles of the central city safe?

As the NHL hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto prepare to welcome hundreds of players who are training for the start of the season, it is feared that “bubble” preparations will not go far enough to prevent COVID-19. 2:05

In Pittsburgh, the Penguins detained nine players who could have had secondary exposure to someone who tested positive for coronavirus. In Toronto, star striker Auston Matthews confirmed he was positive last month.

On the first day of training camp, most media questions are normally about improving the power play or penalty kick.

This time, four months and one day after the league was suspended due to the pandemic, the majority focused on the emotions and logistical challenges of professional hockey during a pandemic.

Mauritius ready for summer hockey

“We have a responsibility, first of all towards our health, I understand, but we are also artists, right? Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice asked. “People want to watch hockey, they want to see it, so it’s our job, and we have a responsibility to do our job. So we are ready to play. ”

He added, “It’s a good idea because I’m a hockey fan and I’m going crazy. ”

But not everyone is ready to play. Monday afternoon, six players had exercised their right to sit: Karl Alzner (Montreal), Mike Green (Edmonton), Travis Hamonic (Calgary), Sven Baertschi (Vancouver), Roman Polak (Dallas) and Steven Kampfer (Boston ).

WATCH | The NHL announces the main city choices:

On Friday, the NHL and its players’ union officially signed an agreement that would see hockey resume operations in two Canadian cities on August 1. 3:37

As a father of four, Edmonton goalkeeper Mike Smith said the decision to play was scary.

“I had children who were quite upset when I told them that I was going to Edmonton and that they were staying behind.” Said Smith. “The uncertainty of not knowing when you are going to see them is probably the most difficult thing. ”

But like so many, Smith, 38, landed on the potential benefits that outweigh the risks.

“Obviously a difficult decision, but that was ultimately whether I wanted to continue my career. I want to play the game I love for as long as I can. ”

The Oilers will open the Stanley Cup Playoffs August 1 against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Jets and Flames meet the same day in Edmonton.

“If you can come in with a positive frame of mind – if you can go in there and consider it an exciting challenge, have a little fun with it, prepare a little for it – it might be a good thing,” Said Maurice. “I don’t even know yet what these difficulties are, to be honest with you. I know they are coming, but I haven’t seen it yet.

“All the difficulties you will have in winning the Stanley Cup this year will be the best memory. “

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