Is it time to be concerned about the 2019-20 NHL season resuming?

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 12: Sam Hess, Operations with Monumental Sports & Entertainment, skates alone prior Detroit Red Wings playing against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on March 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today the NHL announced is has suspended their season due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus (COVID-19) with hopes of returning. The NHL currently joins the NBA, MLS, as well as, other sporting events and leagues around the world suspending play because of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The 2019-20 NHL season might not be able to get back underway.

On Monday, June 29th, the NHL released a statement concerning the Covid-19 testing being administered to the players. Out of roughly 250 players getting tested, 26 total players now have tested positive for the Coronavirus since the reopening of training facilities. This situation makes you wonder if it’s worth it to resume the 2019-20 season.

My full views on why the NHL needed to restart the 2019-2020 season can be found from my previous article on the matter clicking here. I fully supported what the NHL is trying to accomplish restarting the season to its completion and I still do if it is safe enough to proceed of course.

It is worth salvaging any gains that can be mustered from this season of massive losses in revenue that will affect the landscape of the business of hockey and the Salary Cap for years to come.

Since that article has been written, there have been significant spikes of positive cases through many parts of the United States, especially in the southern belt States all along the US coast to coast. There are legitimate concerns arising and ongoing if playing these games is possible for the NHL and all professional sports for that matter.

As players have been reporting to their respective team facilities, it is no surprise that roughly 10% of the NHL players returning tested positive. With this virus still lingering and people’s views on the matter being mixed, to say the least, the only thing we are really sure about is the novel coronavirus is not fully going away anytime soon.

The NHL’s plan on how to execute the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs sounds great on paper. Players report to the facilities, get tested daily, then if they have positive test results, go into quarantine and follow all CDC guidelines until they can have consecutive negative tests. Once they are cleared, go back to the team and team activities.

Two hub cities will be where all the games take place, which as of today has been narrowed down to Edmonton, Toronto, Las Vegas, and Chicago according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The idea is to isolate the players in these hub cities and make it safe for them to be around each other once they are all cleared, keep them all safe.

Will the plan work? Is it worth the risk?  Those are the questions that no one has answers to. Everyone has opinions on the situation. No matter your stance in the situation, the coronavirus affects everyone differently. It would only take one player fatally succumbing to the coronavirus like the unfortunate hundreds of thousands of people across the world to make all the efforts to restart the season worthless. The amount of backlash and negativity would be devastating.

At this point, the scheduled start of the 2020-21 season is already compromised. It is unlikely it will be safe for fans to pack arenas in the thousands all across North America by October 2020. With concerns about large crowds of that magnitude coming together again until a vaccination is available for most fans, and others just steering clear in general, what we know to be a normal packed house to enjoy a hockey game won’t happen for a very long time.

It is possible one of the reasons for the early NHL Draft lottery that took place last Friday, June 26th was preventive just in case the 2019-20 season does have to ultimately be canceled completely. Now the NHL can move forward with their offseason program towards starting the 2020-2021 season, whenever that would be able to start.

No NHL players have waived their right to participate in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs to this point, but there are reports of many animous players not being happy with having to participate. The MLB and NBA have had a few players bow out of returning to play this season. It is a very real possibility that can happen along with an injured list of sorts of players that contract the virus during a playoff series.

The worst-case scenario would be for a team to have so many positive cases that they pull the entire team. If it happened during a playoff series, what would be done then? A lot of very scary scenarios can play out here. Once the Stanley Cup playoffs kick off, any kind of delay or stoppage that holds up the road to completion would be catastrophic.

It is definitely worth salvaging the 2019-2020 season with no fans in the arenas to bide time for the coronavirus to take its course if it is safe. This unprecedented situation will dictate how the Stanley Cup playoffs will proceed if at all.

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The NHL, and all professional sports for that matter, have a very thin line to walk through this ever-changing situation. There are no empty-net shots on goal from the top of the crease solutions here, but the tremendous pressure that whatever they decide has to be the right call every time with the same precision of a pilot or surgeon. There is no margin for error.