It seems like many people in and out of the NHL are counting their chicken before they hatch when it comes to taking for granted that there will be a season starting in July. Not so fast folks. Throughout all of this nonsense, there appears to be a few voices of reason who are starting to voice their opinion and question the way the NHL is going about it and that’s a good thing. You see, we’re not talking about the flu here, but COVID-19, a deadly pandemic which has no vaccine yet. While the odds of death amongst healthy athletes are somewhat minimal, fact is that nobody knows the long term effects this virus has on anyone who contracts it.
Sportsnet’s reporter Eric Engels dropped a mini-bomb this morning with a series of tweets. He spoke to five NHL players wanting to remain anonymous (for obvious reasons) who all say that they have huge concerns about returning to play under the circumstances. Let’s look at Eric’s tweets first, then we’ll analyse them.
Now THAT’s journalism folks. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have names and/or a bigger sample size of what players really think, but the fact that all five were on the same page allows us to question the real motive behind rushing into finishing the season. We’ve touched in depth on why rushing back in makes no sense, but the NHL, guided by greed, thinks differently.
Further, the NHL announced that 15 players had tested positive for COVID-19 and that they had to close the Tampa Bay Lightning’s training facility as staff and players were infected.
Thanks to the leadership of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia is a role model on how to handle the pandemic and Vancouver was thought to be the perfect place as a hub for the return of the NHL. How quickly things changed when the British Columbia Government could not get a straight answer from Gary Bettman and his acolytes on their plans if a player (or players) contracted the virus, and how they would manage the ins and outs of the hubs. It seems rather clear that the NHL has no idea what they’re doing. The only thing we know is that they’re driven by money and money only.
As players are returning to their hockey cities, it is obvious that even they don’t know what the league has planned for them and many questions remain. While the players had voted in favour of continuing talks about the possibility of a return to play, they have yet to give the thumbs up to start and from what Eric is reporting, there seems to be some concerns that have yet to be addressed, which the players will undoubtedly discuss.
In a recent article on The Athletic, at least one prominent anonymous player from the Western Conference had these harsh words to say:
“In my opinion, no way we play. This just makes no sense to me. Right from the return-to-play format announcement and this Phase 2 thing that none of us have to be in, they’ve put the cart before the horse. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and they’re shocked there’s an outbreak? And it’s a long ways off to July 10, so you can’t tell me more and more guys won’t be testing positive as more and more guys start to get back to town.
Guys are not happy. This is why we better have a full player vote and not just an executive board vote. But I’m not convinced [NHLPA executive director] Don [Fehr] is going to allow that because he knows there’s so many of us on the fence. That’s why I think the league was trying to be hush-hush on these positive tests.”
The NHL already made a joke of themselves with the way they handled the Draft lottery and I am personally still hoping that something will happen to put a permanent end to this nonsense of wrecking two seasons instead of one but hey… money talks, unfortunately. Go Habs Go!