New NHL directives chart course for even later return for hockey

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Just a few days ago, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly issued a statement to TSN discussing the next steps the league was taking to resume play as soon as possible despite the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The general expectation is that players will remain in their club’s home cities absent unusual circumstances,” Daly said. “Obviously, where a player is separated from his family because his club city residence is only temporary at this point, those players should be permitted to go home to their families in this initial phase of the pause period.

“We envision there coming a time where we transition direction from ‘stay at home’ to opening club facilities to players to work out and to skate on a voluntary basis in small groups similar to what we generally see prior to the beginning of team training camps. At this point, I’m not in a position to say when that will be. We will see how the next week or so plays out.”

That statement, issued on Friday, signaled that — despite the current suspension of the 2019-20 NHL campaign — the steps taken now could potentially set the stage for hockey returning in a month’s time. 

But in a situation as fluid as this ongoing health crisis, things can change in a hurry. Such has been the league’s stance in combating this outbreak, as the NHL issued a new set of directives for its players on Monday morning, that, at the very least, signals that we will have to wait a bit longer before we get hockey back on our TV screens.

The statement issued by the NHL on Monday reads: 

  • Effective immediately, Players can opt to return home (outside of the Club’s home city, including outside of North America, to the extent flights are available).
  • The self-quarantine period should continue within the Player’s home through and including Friday, March 27, unless a longer period may be required in accordance with local mandates related to travel. Players should continue to report immediately any symptoms or testing results to Club medical staff.
  • At the end of the self-quarantine period, and depending on world developments between now and then, consideration will be given to allowing the opening of Club facilities to Players in scheduled and coordinated small groups for voluntary training and care of the Players on the same basis as in the off-season.
  • Our objective will be that, in addition to continuing regular updates, we will be able to provide high-level guidance on the potential of opening a training camp period roughly 45 days into the 60-day period covered by the CDC’s directive.

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