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Lightning Round: The NHL is monitoring CDC recommendations on Coronavirus

The virus is likely to impact more than just stick manufacturing, but the league is still in “monitoring” status.

2020 NHL All-Star - Commissioner Gary Bettman Media Availability Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Game

Because we are fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning, we all know how social the sport of hockey can be. If a game is truly great, the crowd around us is sharing everything — joy, high-fives, sweat, spilled beer, cheers — and therefore we all know that it’s distinctly possible to share germs. Coronavirus is spreading quickly because it’s incredibly difficult to detect, and it is likely to end up at our own front doors sooner rather than later due to Florida’s tourism industry (hello, arena full of Blackhawks jerseys).

Edit: I typed this before the news came out about the two cases in Tampa and Sarasota/Bradenton. Welp.

Steve Whyno surveyed the major league sport front offices and asked how they’re handling the virus. Here’s the response from the NHL:

Pro sports in the U.S. for now are going on as scheduled, though leagues are closely monitoring the situation. The NBA and NHL are in their regular seasons and MLB in spring training in Arizona and Florida with Opening Day less than a month way. [....]

The NHL, which has seven teams based in Canada, is in contact with personnel from the CDC and Public Health Canada. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said by email the NHL has not considered any cancellations.

“We are in regular communication with our clubs on the issue and have passed along best practices being recommended by CDC and Public Health Canada medical experts,” Daly said. “Most of these steps are common sense precautions, but there definitely involves consciousness raising.”

An NHL spokesman added the league “will implement all necessary safety measures as required.” Teams have been getting information from the league about COVID-19 since late January.

So the NHL is in a “wait and see” situation, and so is the rest of the world. Until we know more about how the virus impacts us, the CDC recommends that people follow normal practices for flu season:

  1. Avoid close contact with sick people. This doesn’t mean skipping games yet, but we’ll be watching the league to see what they say.
  2. If you are sick, stay home.
  3. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  4. Clean your hands often. Here’s the way the CDC recommends that you wash your hands. (Wash for the length of “happy birthday” twice.)
  5. Don’t touch your face if you can help it. Germs on your hands enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  6. KEEP INFORMED.

Now on to the rest of the news.

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning, without Steven Stamkos, is scheduled to tango with our divisional rivals this week. Boston comes to town on Tuesday, Montreal plays in Tampa on Thursday, and then the team flies to Boston for their third meeting of the season on Saturday. Tampa and Boston last met in October, where Stamkos scored the game-winning-goal in a shootout, 4-3. How will the team measure up to Boston without Stamkos in the lineup?

Alan is going to write more about that later, but for now, here’s what the rest of the sports world is saying.

The Bruins are looking forward to the “luxury” of playing around with their lineup now that they have a lead on Tampa. [Boston Herald] — yes, go ahead and relax for us.

“The luxury is we can put people in and out of the lineup, look at different line combos,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy prior to their win over the Islanders on Saturday. “We have two new players acquired from Anaheim, so it’s not a pressure situation every night. I as a coach feel it is to win, to play well, but at the end of the day if you lose a couple like we did, it’s not the same pressure maybe as say Edmonton is going through now to get in, or whoever.”

Diane Nearhos wrote about five ways in which the team can work around Stamkos’s absence [Tampa Bay Times, paid content]:

Stamkos is responsible for nearly a quarter of the Lightning’s power-play goals this season. The unit managed without him in Saturday’s win over the Flames, though, with two goals on four opportunities. Johnson is the likely candidate to take Stamkos’ spot. He is a right-handed shot who can score; he had one of the power-play goals Saturday.

Here is the usual article about how many injuries Stamkos has had. I mean, we all know already. [Tampa Bay Times, paid content]

But this franchise, more than most, knows how precious a shot at the title can be. The Lightning won the Cup in 2004 and then had the next season wiped out by labor strife, followed by a new collective bargaining agreement that tore the guts out of a special team.

We’re used to it, so moving on... to NIKITA KUUUUUUCHEROV! Speaking of other amazing players on our team, would you like the t-shirt? I bought mine today, it’s $31.00 with tax and shipping.

The EBUG situation

Apparently the NHL GMs were already going to discuss EBUG rules before David Ayers became a hero, but it sure is a coincidence. (Greg Wyshynski does not think it’s a coincidence, by the way. He thinks that the NHL likes to kill anything remotely fun.) The alternative is to make a skater go into goal — which honestly, I’d kind of like to see. This article from Associated Press has a pretty interesting survey of GM thoughts about it.

The current rule of each arena making an emergency goalie available for a game stemmed from 2015 incident in Florida that almost caused an assistant coach to put on the pads and play. Because an emergency goalie has only been required to play twice — Ayres and Scott Foster for Chicago in 2018 — executives and officials might find the current protocol better than the old-school notion of making a skater go in net.

This link is especially for noted Raw Charge writer of all things collectible, Justing. Hey Justing — speaking of Ayers, did you know that he has his own hockey card? [CTV News]

Ayers is featured in Upper Deck’s “Game Dated Moments” collection, which are cards unveiled on a weekly-basis that highlight notable performances from the past week. Ayres’ card features him standing in the Hurricanes’ net, wearing the team’s jersey and Maple Leafs equipment, while the back of the card tells the story of the game.

And read this: Q&A: Tony McKegney on the NHL’s overlooked generation of black players [Sportsnet]

SN: Trevor was able to persevere. Akim Aliu hasn’t had the same ability to bounce back from his difficult treatment in the game.

TM: He brought up a lot of memories for me, ugly memories. The things he went through were things I experienced in my time. I always said that the game is tough enough as it is just trying to survive and make it outside of having that stuff on the sidelines. It made me angry, made me sad. It brought back some ghosts and nightmares, memories for me, which I hadn’t thought about in a while. And I still struggle with that to this day, with the trauma that I faced and went through. I’m sure it affected me. I tried to, basically, suppress a lot of those feelings back then, and I just buried a lot of things. But sometimes it comes back to haunt you.

Everybody, stay healthy and have a good week!