While we are all focused on getting hockey back and hoping it will be sooner rather than later, some of us have forgotten to think about the healthy aspects of a return to action and what it means for players and staff.
Earlier this week, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner was asked about his excitement to return to play and stunned many by asking tough questions.
“My thought on this is: OK, I’m all down for starting everything back up, let’s rock,” Marner said on a Twitch stream Wednesday. “But what if someone gets sick and dies? What happens?
“It’s awful to think about, but still.”
Eight players - five with the Ottawa Senators and three with the Colorado Avalanche - have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus since the NHL went on pause March 12 due to the pandemic. Players and staff are still under self-quarantine, but the league hopes to initiate the Phase 2 of protocols, which means getting small groups of players skating in facilities, by late May.
It appears that the NHL is leaning toward jumping straight into the playoffs rather than playing out what remains of the regular season. Rumours are talking about the possibility of getting 24 teams into the postseason, which means the Leafs would be competing. When action was halted due to the pandemic, the Leafs occupied third place in the Atlantic Division.
Marner, who was in the midst of another great season with 67 points in 59 games, seems tentative about returning but we are certain he would if it means getting a shot at the Stanley Cup.