The Difficulties In Restarting The NHL Season

Social distancing is the least of the problems.  

The National Hockey League has kicked the tires at another plan to resume the 2019-2020 season and start the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The league would use four franchise cities’ arenas and would play games until the Stanley Cup is awarded. The league figures to make some money off of TV but games would be played without spectators meaning no arena revenue. Could the NHL pull this plan off? It will be difficult. The first thing the league would need in any of the cities that might be able to accommodate seven or eight teams complete with players, coaches, athletic staff along with arena workers, television crews and others is to be deemed an essential business. Is hockey an essential business? Then everyone connected to the league would have to arrive at the cities and that would include the ability of players and coaches and staff who went home to Canada and Europe to get into the United States? United States and European personnel who went home and get assigned to work in Canada face the same problem. Travel bans for them would have to be lifted.

Once the players and others get into the cities is there a capacity for constant COVID-19 testing? The NHL personnel would have to stay somewhere. That would be at area hotels which means will the hotel workers, the bus drivers who would take people to the rink and back and others would have to be tested. Should NHL personnel get tested when many Americans cannot? Some trace testing maybe needed as NHL personnel would have to come out of quarantine and may have been exposed to the virus in the travel to a city that welcomes them. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledges that any plan to get back on ice is will be difficult. Bettman will rely on medical specialists trying to get the season resumed.