Although there has been a lot of speculation as of recent, we finally seem to have some emerging answer from the NHL, about a playoff start date and other details surrounding it. The collective bargaining agreement has been extended to 4 additional years, and the players association has also agreed to the tears of health and competition guidelines. This is a big step forward, but as with anything sports-wise during the Covid-19 pandemic, there aren’t some strides forward without one or two strides back.
Training camps were meant to open on July 10th for weeks now, they have now pushed back till the 13th of July. This will give teams under two weeks, due to be in their assigned hub city by July 26th for testing prior to playoff games, reportedly beginning August 1st. It is also rumored that these hub cities are both in Canada, Toronto serving for the east, while Edmonton will hold those in Western divisions.
However, I have yet to see anything officially come from the NHL itself regarding this choice as final. Again, this seems like a very clear timeline as the top 4 of twelve teams play for positions, and those remaining 8 teams per division battle it out to stay in Stanley Cup contention. The same problem which halted play nearly 4 months ago, has the potential to topple this entire plan.
The Covid-19 pandemic had already hit 26 players just w week ago and now that number has risen, adding another 9 to its unfortunate total. This number comes from a total of only 226 players being tested, who returned for optional workouts at club facilities. Just around 2,900 tests have been administered for just this amount of players, only a little over 1/3 of those who would participate in the 24 team playoff.
It is estimated that with each team having a mire 52 man roster, roughly 1,250 men will be tested daily at the beginning of playoffs. Further, it is said an additional 12 players who hadn’t even come to practice yet also have the virus. As of now these cases are something to keep a close eye on but seem to give no halt to the NHL moving forward with playoff proceedings. Check back often to Skullking Sports for NHL updates as it appears we will be seeing live-action again, on ice, in under a month!