While the National Hockey League is inching closer to puck drop for the 2020-21 season, there is still lots to get done with protocols and logistics to get the next campaign safely underway. The NHL could draw inspiration from the Return to Play format it put together for the playoffs in the summer, though the league would prefer to see teams play in their respective arenas, if skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers can come down…
However, during the summer, the NHL decided to let players the option to opt out of the league’s Return to Play if they choose without consequence. Six players made the decision to opt out, including Travis Hamonic, who was the first player to officially opt out of the NHL’s Return to Play, not wanting to hinder his daughter’s health in the process.
It is believed that the NHL is looking at different options to allow players to step out of the 2020-21 season, and according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, an important player from one of the NHL teams could decide not to play next season. He obviously did not disclose his name, out of respect for the player in question.
We certainly wonder now who it could be. We already know that players like Max Domi of the Columbus Blue Jackets or Kaapa Kakko of the New York Rangers, both suffering from type 1 diabetes, are at greater risk than others of developing serious complications that could even be fatal if they test positive to COVID- 19. This summer, both players had made the decision to accompany their respective teams into the playoff bubble after consulting with the medical experts but could their decision be different this time around now that they won't have the same protection?
One player that has been quite vocal on his decision to return to action in link with the format is veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara. The unrestricted free agent has yet to re-sign with the Boston Bruins, or any team for that matter, stating that he’s waiting to see what the NHL and NHLPA can hammer out as another return to play plan. However, he is a free agent at the moment and Friedman appeared to be talking about an active player under contract.