The National Hockey League has just made a drastic change in its policy regarding European and foreign players who will be participating in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and no doubt it is going to rub many of the players included in that category the wrong way.
According to a breaking news report from Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider Elliotte Friedman, the league has now "strongly encouraged" the players that are currently outside of the United States and Canada to return to their respective teams prior to June 21st. The sudden change in policy from the NHL appears to stem from concerns over work visas that players will need to have extended as a result of the stoppage in play, their existing visas were set to expire on the 30th of June. The NHL is concerned that players who do not return in time could potentially struggle to acquire new visas in time for the start of NHL training camps, which could begin as soon as July 10th according to some reports. Friedman reports that the league has informed the players whom this would concern that "it is essential that you return as soon as possible to give your club enough time to process a renewal application on your behalf."
Up until now players who were out of the country would not have been required to return to their respective teams until the start of training camp, but it seems as though the NHL may have accelerated the timeline somewhat. This means that players will now have to report at least 19 days earlier than originally expected and it seems likely that this will cause dissatisfaction among at least some of the players concerned. This will be even more frustrating for players returning to their teams in Canada as thus far that country's government has refused to relax the 14 day mandatory quarantine for professional athletes, including players in the National Hockey League.
There has been some talk as of late regarding the two "hub cities" that will host the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs with Las Vegas and Toronto appearing to be the two rumored choices from the NHL. In fact the league may be waiting for an announcement regarding that 14 day quarantine before making it official, something that would also make this less of a headache for their players returning from overseas.