The National Hockey League has just issued a major update to their players and unfortunately for anyone hoping to hear some good news in the next few days, this appears to be an indication that thing are much worse than the league was initially hoping for.
According to a report from Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider Chris Johnston, the NHL has issued brand new directives to its players on Monday and the messaging behind them is clear. Johnston reports that, contrary to what the NHL had previously instructed just days ago, players will now be permitted to return home to any country. This is a massive change in the NHL's stance on this issue and is a clear indication that the league now believes this crisis will go on for much longer than they had initially hoped for, but things do not end there. Additionally Johnston reports that the league has also ordered players who return to their home countries that they must remain in self quarantine until at least the end of March once they arrive in those countries, again an indication that we are a long ways away from playing NHL hockey again.
Interestingly enough for the first time that I can remember Johnston was also able to provide a rough estimate on when the league is expecting to get things back to some relative form of normalcy, but that does not mean that we will be resuming the 2019 -2020 NHL regular season or even the 2020 NHL playoffs at that time. Johnston has reported that the NHL will look to re-open camps at the end of next month, although what exactly that means for how things will play out on the ice moving forward still remains a mystery at this time.
"As part of this new directive, it sounds like the league hopes to re-open camps in late April," wrote the NHL insider on Monday morning.
No doubt players would need some time to get themselves into game shape prior to the season being resumed, or prior to the playoffs kicking off, so even in a best case scenario it now sounds like we would be well into the month of May before any type of play could resume in the NHL. Obviously this is not what fans wanted to hear, but it may in fact be the best for the health and safety of players and fans alike.