A National Hockey League insider has just reported some news that, while understandable for entertainment and economic reasons, raises some rather ugly questions about what could happen in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As many of you know the NHL and the National Hockey League Players Association officially agreed to move forward with a 24 team playoff format this week, although there remain a ton of details to be ironed out. Among those details of course will be the testing, safety and comfort of the players who will be involved in this unorthodox playoff format and recently Philadelphia Flyers insider Sam Carchidi reported on a rather eyebrow raising statement coming out of the NHL itself.
First here's what Carchidi had to report:
The NHL says even if there are two infections on a team, it doesn’t necessarily mean the entire team will be quarantined. That sounds problematic from here.
Now from a logistics standpoint I understand this. If a team is in the middle of a 7 games series you can't simply postpone the season yet again to allow one or more teams to be quarantined for an undetermined period of time. However from a competitive standpoint this seems like an outlandish move by the NHL given what it could mean for teams participating in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. What if the Toronto Maple Leafs were to lose Auston Matthews and John Tavares? What if the Pittsburgh Penguins lost Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as a result of COVID-19? Alexander Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie for the Capitals? The list goes on and on and on but you can quickly start to see the problem here. Would NHL teams be seriously expected to continue moving forward while potentially having some of their top stars on the sideline? If so how long would players who test positive be forced to isolate away from their teammates? We are likely talking a matter of several weeks for an infected player and that kind of time frame could mean your team has long since been eliminated before an infected player can get back out onto the ice and rejoin the roster.
Carchidi correctly notes here that this particular idea "sounds problematic," and he is correct, there are a ton of serious questions that need answers here and in this particular case I'm not sure any of the answers would satisfy NHL fans who might see their team suffer in such a predicament.