The NHL has decided to let players the option to opt out of the league’s Return to Play if they choose without consequence and it is now believed that multiple players have made up their minds to stay at home.
That’s shocking news coming from TSN’s Frank Seravalli on Friday who answered the question when ask how many players would opt out of the 24-team playoff tournament.
“Sources indicate multiple NHL players are indeed considering opting-out of participation. The MOU allows any player to decline participation for any reason, without penalty.
“Some players with underlying medical conditions may not have to make the choice. After consultation with team doctors and infectious disease experts, if a player is determined to “be at substantial risk of developing a serious illness as a result of exposure to the novel coronavirus” he will be “deemed unfit to play and shall not be permitted to participate” in both training camp and the bubble.
The Canadiens’ Max Domi,the Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko and the Wild’s Luke Kuninall have Type 1 diabetes, plus Domi and Kakko also have Celiac disease, which may put them at further risk. There are other players who have family members who may be at substantial risk and will choose not to take the chance. “
When insiders first discussed the possibility of players missing out on the tournament, insider Ken Campbell of The Hockey News was adamant that none of the players from teams that take part in the 24-club playoff tournament will choose to stay home.
“Here’s a bold prediction, a hot take, if you will. Of the 744 players – 31 for each of the 24 teams taking part – who will be eligible to play in the playoffs starting in August, I don’t believe a single one will opt out of playing. Not one. No number of positive cases of COVID, which is essentially at 35 and counting, no amount of risk and the possibility of not making anything more beyond playoff bonus money will keep these guys off the ice.”
The insider believed players are set on competing for the Stanley Cup, despite the roller-coaster season that was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even if some might not feel terribly comfortable about playing hockey right now and being in such closed quarters for an extended period of time.
He added that players who would choose to miss out on the postseason who be humiliated by others, and fear to be shamed by teammates in the process.
But sources close to players that have spoken with Seravalli believes some will indeed choose to stay home. We might not know why they make that decision, but it seems like we should get ready for it.