A very interesting report from Larry Brooks of the New York Post popped up on Sunday. The veteran NHL reporter wrote that the NHL and NHLPA are “intensifying communications as the league moves forward crafting plans to reopen the season if it is safe to do so.”
Part of that process was the formation of a ‘Return to Play Committee’ according to Brooks. The committee was formed by both sides and includes representatives from the league office, players and PA management. Brooks also reported that this committee has already met twice in recent days and will continue to meet this week, virtually of course.
Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, and senior VP’s Colin Campbell and Steve Hatze Petros represent the NHL on this committee. The NHLPA is represented by Don Fehr, Mathieu Schneider, general counsel Don Zavelo, divisional rep Steve Webb, and a number of active players. The players are John Tavares, Connor McDavid, James van Riemsdyk, Mark Scheifele and Ron Hainsey. Medical advisers from both the league and union are added to the calls when appropriate, per Brooks.
The NHL is pushing hard to return at some point in the coming months. If/when they do, it will be different than anything we have ever seen. Although details have not been ironed out at this time, the league is working on the presumption that it will need to hold games at centralized locations. It’s almost certain that fans will not be permitted either.
There is simply no guarantee that the NHL does return to complete the 2019-20 season. The league is at the bidding of local governments when it comes to where they can play.
Edmonton was rumored to be a frontrunner as recently as last week, but that could be in jeopardy as Alberta’s chief medical officer of health recently reiterated that gatherings of 15 or more people would be prohibited until at least September.
The ever changing landscape of the COVID-19 situation makes a return to play date a moving target at best. Although it isn’t promised that the NHL will return to complete the season, there is a real effort going on to make it happen.
More as it happens.