By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
An official or projected return to the ice remains up in the air for the 2019-20 NHL season, as the league has officially extended its self-quarantine guidelines for its players and coaches to Apr. 15.
“As we get closer to the date, we're going to have to make decisions as to what to do then,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email to the Associated Press. "We're biting this off in chunks.”
The NHL's decision comes in the wake of the United States extending their stay-at-home advisory to Apr. 30, and with Toronto city officials banning all public events through June 30. (According to some closer to the situation in Canada, that order wouldn't apply to Raptors or Maple Leafs games, but rather public gatherings. That would lead you to believe that if and when the leagues reopen their doors, Toronto isn't expecting it to open to the public out of the gate.)
Even with the extended self-quarantine -- the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators are still the only two franchises with coronavirus-confirmed players so far -- the league remains hopeful that they will have a conclusion to their season. They've even asked their teams for home arena availability in August, meaning they're willing to play deep into the summer if it means awarding the 2020 Stanley Cup and not punting on their season without a champion.
That would certainly be in the B's best interest, as the league went on pause on Mar. 12 with the Bruins sitting atop the NHL with 100 points, and with the Bruins looking to avenge last year's Stanley Cup Final loss to the Blues.
"With only a few games until the playoffs and so close to the playoffs with the team playing well and with confidence, we were obviously in a good place," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, communicating in a Zoom conference with the media earlier this week, admitted earlier this week. "But who knows? We can't always wish for the perfect situation. These types of situations do happen once in a while. Hopefully we play again and we'll see when that's going to be."
It's been reported that the NHL's plans for a return would include a training camp before finishing the regular season and then starting the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Time may be running out in terms of restarting the regular season and finishing with a full 82 games however, as a "best-case scenario" for the league included a projected May 15 return to game action.
The first step, however, is getting through this second self-quarantine without any additional issues.