On Thursday, the NHL announced additional preventative measures that they will be taking in order to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout the league. Currently, New Jersey, Buffalo, Minnesota, and as of yesterday Colorado are all in shutdown after outbreaks. Carolina, Dallas, and Vegas have all gone through their own quarantines earlier in this three-week-old season. A total of 22 games have been postponed already.
Along with mentioning over 100 players have gone through COVID protocols for the virus, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced four new preventative measures that the league is going to take moving forward. Here is what he had to say. [NHL PR]
“With about 20 percent of our season played, we are mindful of the fact that we might be seeing a more aggressive transmission of the virus and will continue to make adjustments to our Protocols as we consult on a daily basis with, and adhere to, the recommendations of our medical advisors. It is important to note that, while we have seen almost 100 players enter our COVID Protocols, fewer than half have done so because of confirmed positive tests - and, among that group, many have not been symptomatic. Our priority has been and will continue to be to act conservatively with an abundance of caution, understanding that there are many things about the transmission of COVID-19 that are still being discovered. As a result, we won’t hesitate to take additional measures as indicated by what we are learning and as directed by our medical advisers.”
You can read more into the new measures in the link above, but here is a quick jot note of what they are:
- Removal of Shielding Behind the Bench: To allow for air flow to more easily move away from the benches where Players and Coaches are in close proximity to one another during games.
- Limitation of Time at the Game Arena: In order to minimize (to the extent practical) the period of time for possible exposure and transmission of COVID-19 while Players are gathered at the arena, Players and Coaching staff are being advised, whenever practicable, to arrive at the Game arena no more than 1 hour and 45 minutes before puck drop.
- Physical Distancing in Team Spaces: In order to reduce to the extent possible the number of Players in a room at the same time, each Club shall take steps to utilize (or create where necessary) additional locker room space for the home and visiting teams, such that physical distancing of a least six (6) feet between players at each of their stalls is accomplished.
- Air Filtration and Air Cleaning: The League is considering adoption of a requirement for Clubs/Arenas to deploy portable air cleaners with HEPA behind the Player bench areas, in order to improve indoor air quality and mitigate airborne viral transmission.
At the site, Geo wondered which Lightning players could see themselves on the 2022 Olympic Men’s Hockey rosters. I’ll give you one hint, Victor Hedman is playing for Sweden. [Raw Charge]
“I personally think Steven Stamkos is a Lock. Barring injury, he’s still one of the best goal scorers that Team Canada has available to them. He was an alternate for the 2010 Olympics, missed 2014 because of injury, and 2018 because of the lockout. Leaving him off the roster would be a disservice to one of the best goal scorers the NHL has seen in the last 30+ years. But some pundits have been leaving Stamkos off of their lists.”
“The unfortunate news comes after playing the last three games against the Minnesota Wild, who have had their own coronavirus problems. After they were missing five players to the COVID Protocol list, the NHL started with cancelling Thursday’s fourth and final game between the squads.”
As the Sabres are dealing with their outbreak, they announced that head coach Ralph Krueger (61) has tested positive.
An update from the Sabres organization: pic.twitter.com/6r7srLO6dT— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) February 4, 2021
In the AHL, the Cleveland Monsters are unable to travel due to COVID protocols so their season is delayed. Cleveland has games against Rochester this season, while Rochester has games against Syracuse.
NEWS: The Rockford #IceHogs' season-opening series against the Cleveland Monsters on Friday and Saturday has been postponed due to Cleveland being unable to travel based on the #AHL's COVID-19 protocols.— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) February 4, 2021
Rockford will now host the Chicago Wolves at 3 p.m. Saturday. #Blackhawks
In Canada, the Ontario Government is still not allowing the Belleville Senators and Toronto Marlies to play.
Meanwhile, the ECHL has announced plans for the Kelly Cup Playoffs to be held starting in June. They are, as you say, going with the flow. [ECHL]
“The top four teams in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference, based on points percentage at the conclusion of the regular season, will earn postseason berths. All three rounds in the 2021 Kelly Cup Playoffs will be best-of-five series, with the higher-seeded team having the option of playing the first two or the final three games at home, unless a mutual alternative series format is determined.”