Despite conflicting reports on dates and cities, it appears that we’re now getting to the point where NHL hockey might actually return at some point in 2020. When and where the NHL resumes play is anyone’s guess at this point, but as hockey fans we’re just happy that the season isn’t being thrown out entirely.
The NHL and NHLPA are currently mulling a number or “return to play” scenarios, but the big question is… do the players even want to return? Is it safe to play? What kind of precautions will the NHL take to ensure their safety?
The Athletic administered an anonymous poll of 57 different players from 22 teams to get to the bottom of these questions and, frankly, the answers are somewhat surprising.
Read below for some snippets from The Athletic’s article:
“I think if you asked most players they’d say they want to play again. Sure, we have concerns and you hope those are taken care of as best as the league can take care of them, but we want to play,” said a Western Conference player.
“I would say some regular season and playoffs, I think everyone is willing to play,” echoed an Eastern Conference player.
Among the detractors to the regular-season plan, one Western Conference player said: “I get why the league wants to play the regular season but I just don’t think it makes sense for every team to come back for a few games. What’s the point for the teams that are out of the playoffs?”One Eastern Conference player perhaps summed up the true sentiments of all players: “I’d skip every regular season if we were given a playoff spot.”
“I don’t know if I can give you a straight answer because there are too many variables,” said an Eastern Conference player. “If it’s not safe, we can’t play. I think everyone wants to finish the regular season and playoffs if we are able to, though.”
“I want to play, but I’d want to know what would the isolation be like,” said a Western Conference player. “Are we trapped in the hotel? Can I not see my girlfriend, my friends, my parents? Do we have to play all (divisional) teams to make the playoffs? How do you play our sport when it’s impossible to social distance on the ice, on the bench, in the locker room, in the workout room, heck, in the shower? The long list of problems seems endless.”
“It’s a tough one,” he said. “I want to play because we had a good shot this year. I don’t want to compromise next season, either. I want a plan that is going to be viable and not jeopardize next season. They are talking about plans that end in late September and the next season starts in November. It’s a short break.”
“Playoff hockey is great and would generate us the most money on HRR, so I suppose my final vote would be to go to the playoffs at the end of the day,” said an Eastern Conference player.
So, what can we take from all this? Generally speaking, the players DO want to return. But they just want some assurance that they won’t be risking their health in doing so. One other thing… how weird is it going to be playing with no fans in attendance?
“I don’t want to play playoffs without fans. When you win a Cup, the best part is sharing it with all the people you want there,” said an Eastern Conference player. “If I can’t share it with my family or people I want there, it’s not the same. If we can’t have a parade because of rules or whatever, it’s not the same. Would we even get the Cup for a day? Do people think of those things when making the decision? They should. Part of winning it is all of that.”
To read the full article from The Athletic, click below: