The NHL owners and Commissioner, in their wisdom (or greed), are infatuated with having playoffs hockey this year, even if it means playing in empty arenas all summer long, with closed international borders and the risk it represents to it’s biggest assets: the players’ health. The players as a whole aren’t much better as they ignored those amongst them who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, voting to keep discussing with the league for a 24-team playoffs’ format. As you can see, there’s plenty of blame to share when it comes to going against common sense.
Just as Canada was starting to make some progress on the Coronavirus front, the United States were still battling a rise in the number of new cases and deaths, with the President preferring passing the blame on everyone else but himself and looking for photo ops in front of Churches, even going as far as patting himself on the back in spite of a huge lack of responsibility and accountability on his part.
Just as the year 2020 was dealing North American another blow in warning its populations of the danger of the “Murder Hornets”, it’s another monster that pointed its ugly face when, on May 25th, a Minneapolis police officer committed an atrocious crime when, after arresting an African American man, ignored his pleas for his life as the officer knelt on his neck during an arrest. Derek Chauvin was not only fired but he now faces second-degree murder charges for the death of George Floyd.
Let’s spare each other the details of the brutal event as we all know them and as they are easy to find anywhere on the internet. This horrible event has raised the ire of not only the black community in the United States, but everyone in the world who decided to ensure, through protests, that officials at every level do something about racism. Unfortunately, when crowds gathers, there’s always a group of opportunistic criminals who take advantage of such peaceful gatherings by looting, destroying and creating more havoc in most major cities in the US. Remember Montreal in 1955, better know as the Rocket Richard riot? How about in 1993, after the Habs’ last Stanley Cup win? Or perhaps you remember the 2008 riot, after the Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins to advance to the second round that season’s playoffs? Or does 2010 ring a bell, after the Habs beat Pittsburgh? Perhaps do you recall 1994 and 2011 in Vancouver? But rioting is a topic in itself so let’s get to the point of this article and the impact it could very have on the NHL’s hopes to resume play this summer…
We’ve already touched on how illogical and mind boggling the NHL’s decision to not shut down for the season is, so we won’t get into that again. It seems like players and teams are getting ready to gather and start straining. But will it really happen? In my years watching Gary Bettman run the show, let’s just say that nothing would surprise me when it comes to his decisions so yes, it’s a possibility for sure. But Bettman is facing another obstacle, one which has yet to surface and present its ugly face.
We all know about the possibility of a second Coronavirus outbreak, which is predicted to be bigger than the first one. What we didn’t expect, or what the experts could not predict, is the mass gatherings following the death of Mr. Floyd. When everyone was asked to stay at least 6 feet apart (2m), that all went out the window during those protests and riots. COVID-19 all forgotten, particularly in the states, although Canada also has rallies for this worthy cause… but the timing cannot be worse to do so.
It takes up to 14 days for the virus to show symptoms. In the meantime, those who have been exposed to it and have contracted it don’t even know they have it yet… and they’re spreading it even more. If you think for a second that those mask are enough to prevent another outbreak, you’re as delusional as the NHL is towards this season. Ironically and sadly enough, George Floyd’s words “I can’t breathe“, used on rally signs everywhere, could very well take a real meaning to those who will get COVID-19 at those rallies.
My biggest concern however is for the players who are the most at risk. It’s already been announced that Max Domi, who suffers from Type-1 Diabetes, is a high risk for complications and his presence in the Canadiens’ lineup is in question. More recently, young New York Rangers forward Kappo Kakko, who suffers from Diabetes and Celiac Disease, is another player whose presence is very much in question. Those are only a few cases that we know about folks but there is no doubt that there are other known cases of players at a higher risk. Further, the NHL has no plan in place in the event a player, coach or training staff contracts the virus. Saying that the NHL is being irresponsible would be an understatement but this next wave, which should appear within a week, two at the latest, will hopefully knock some sense into those who are too greedy to understand.
Canadiens leaders speak up
Players and teams have been vocal against racism and the situation surrounding Mr. Floyd and the Montreal Canadiens are no different.
In case you missed it, Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber issued a statement regarding the protests and the issue of racism. You can find it here, on the Canadiens’ website.
Also, his teammate and alternate-captain Brendan Gallagher spoke out about it as well on his Instagram account, which was also published here by the Canadiens.
True leadership. Go Habs Go!
After publishing this article, two important news came out. One from the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Habs’ supposed opponents if hockey resumes, the other from the NHL. It’s so ridiculous, it goes against any logic.