After the CDC recommended the cancellation or postponement of all events with 50 or more people on Sunday, the NHL changed its course in their response to the Coronavirus and allowed players to return home, including those who hail from countries outside of North America.
The NHL still provided some hope that the 2019-20 season won’t be canceled saying they would continue to provide high-level guidance on the potential of opening a training camp period roughly 45 days into the 60-day period covered by the CDC’s directive. The players must continue to remain in self-quarantine at home until March 27.
Here’s the official statement the league released on Monday morning:
- Effective immediately, players can opt to return home (outside of the club’s home city, including outside of North America, to the extent flights are available).
- The self-quarantine period should continue within the player’s home through and including Friday, March 27, unless a longer period may be required in accordance with local mandates related to travel. Players should continue to report immediately any symptoms or testing results to club medical staff.
- At the end of the self-quarantine period, and depending on world developments between now and then, consideration will be given to allowing the opening of club facilities to players in scheduled and coordinated small groups for voluntary training and care of the players on the same basis as in the off-season.
- Our objective will be that, in addition to continuing regular updates, we will be able to provide high-level guidance on the potential of opening a training camp period roughly 45 days into the 60-day period covered by the CDC’s directive.
This was a 180 from the memo sent to players in the immediate aftermath of the league putting the season on pause last Thursday. Following that announcement, the league asked players to remain in their respective team cities with the hope that teams could reopen their practice facilities within a few weeks and the players could begin informal workouts that would lead to a mini-training camp and then play resuming next month. By order of not just the CDC’s recommendation but also almost every major city in North America essentially closing down for at least the next three to four weeks, it’s seeming more and more likely this season will be canceled.
There were rumors flying around that the Boston Bruins would be crowned Stanley Cup champions if the season was canceled since they were the best team in hockey when the season paused but that’s very unlikely. For now, it’s seeming more and more that they could become the first team in pro sports history since the Montreal Expos to finish with the best record in the league and not even get the chance to play in the postseason.