By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Any (obviously slim) hope of the NHL returning to action in the near future were dashed on Monday, as the league has told players they’re allowed to return home — their homes outside of their NHL cities, mind you — effective immediately. (That includes cities outside of North America, too, meaning this isn’t going to be a quick weekend back home with friends and family.)
The NHL’s decision to let players return home is the headliner of what was a four-point memo from the league issued on Monday, which also requested players self-quarantine through Friday, Mar. 27. The league also suggested that any players suffering from symptoms of COVID-19 report them to their team’s medical staff as soon as possible. As of right now, there has yet to be a reported case of COVID-19 involving an NHL player.
Assuming that holds and players are virus-free at the conclusion of the self-quarantine period, the league will begin to give consideration to re-opening the team’s training facilities for some group training. This would essentially be similar to what teams do just before the start of training camp, with player-organized skates and captains’ practices.
And ah, speaking of training camp…
With the CDC directing people to essentially chill for eight weeks, the league is hopeful that they can return to the ice and have a ‘training camp’ 45 days into that 60-day chill, and with the hopes of resuming the season at the conclusion of that camp. How they return — do they have regular-season contests, play-in games for bubble teams, or go right to the playoffs? — remains completely up in the air, but this would seemingly put the league on track for a return to games in May. Barring another setback or outbreak of a virus that’s straight-up ravaged our world, of course.
The NHL paused its season with the Bruins atop the league standings with 100 points.