After President Trump announced a three-phase guidance package to reopen the United States on Thursday night and also said he wants pro sports back “as soon as possible”, optimism ran through the sports world that the NHL and the NBA could actually pull off one of the various scenarios they’ve discussed to salvage their 2019-20 seasons or at least the playoffs. While Trump’s efforts to reopen the economy could eventually include the return of the NHL in an isolated site with no fans and players and team personnel practicing social distancing cooped up in a hotel or resort-like location when they’re not playing, an NHL source told Boston Hockey Now that it remains to be seen if the general media will be allowed to join them.
“There is some debate right now of whether to just let the league network partners besides NHL Network, NHL.com and team website reporters be there and have access,” said the source who has been part of the ongoing discussions about bringing back this season in some capacity.
That would mean besides league affiliated outlets, that NBC, NBCSN, Sportsnet, CBC, and TSN would be allowed on location, whether that’s at the already discussed Grand Forks, North Dakota or another designated neutral site. As for online writing and reporting, besides the likes of Sportsnet.ca, TSN.ca, and The Athletic, that could only come from team website reporters. However, the source did stress that TSN.= and TSN.ca
“There’s a chance that the radio and TV play-by-play crews that provide coverage of each team may not be allowed and they simply call the games from their home studios or even home off league feed,” the source said.
That means Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley of NESN or Judd Sirott and Bob Beers could find themselves still calling games quarantined at home. That also means print/online reporters, like yours truly, might also need to do the same and depend on pool quotes from the BostonBruins.com staff. As it has since the NHL went on pause March 12 due to the Coronavirus outbreak, everything is in a complete flux right now but this is just another example of how extreme safety measures will need to and will be.
As NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear on Wednesday, the league knows this return could open a Pandora’s Box of outbreaks and they will take every precaution necessary to prevent that from happening.
“Before we can begin as a business standpoint, we have to be comfortable that we have the appropriate medical protocols in place because we’re going to have to have our players travel from virtually all over the world,” Bettman told Fox Business News Wednesday.
“When we decide it’s time to play, we have to be able to get everybody back and be comfortable that not only are we not infecting the population of players but that were not bringing the coronavirus from other places into jurisdictions where the players and other personnel are going.”