NHL Brass: "Constant" Testing Key To Avoiding Another Stoppage
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated that testing "would be constant" inside the NHL's two hub-city bubbles, with Daly adding that there were "no 'hard and fast numbers' that would lead the league to alter or shut down play, but that it would rely on the advice of medical professionals and experts," according to Andrew Knoll of the N.Y. TIMES. Eastern Conference clubs will "travel to Toronto, and Western Conference teams will head to Edmonton on July 26." Edmonton, which had 203 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Friday, will "host both conference finals series, as well as the Stanley Cup finals." The games will be "played without fans, but the broadcasts of the games may include simulated noise and other adaptations." Bettman said, "We have some very special things planned" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/11). In N.Y., Larry Brooks writes observers "have no idea whether the NHL’s Stanley Cup tournament ... will come to fruition," but it is "safe to say that the NHL and NHLPA conducted all due diligence and have attempted to construct an environment that will protect its athletes’ and employees’ physical and mental health as much as possible." The run-up to the return to play "has been remarkably drama-free," and if "any league has a chance to pull it off, the NHL at least seems in decent position" (N.Y. POST, 7/13).
NUMBERS TO KNOW: ESPN.com's Emily Kaplan reported to "maximize the number of games televised, start times will be scheduled on a staggered basis with the 10 days of qualifying games in Toronto slated to start" at noon, 4:00 and 8:00pm ET. The "start times for the three game windows in Edmonton" will be 2:00, 6:30 and 10:30. But the windows for the games in Edmonton "might fluctuate by up to 30 minutes during the qualifying round" (ESPN.com, 7/10). In DC, Samantha Pell cited a report by TSN’s Bob McKenzie indicating there will be "two hotels for teams to stay in at both locations" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/11). Pell in a separate piece noted as of Friday, Toronto had "reported 14,777 confirmed cases with 1,117 deaths since the novel coronavirus pandemic began," while Edmonton had "reported 1,202 cases and 19 deaths." Canada as a whole had "reported 106,882 cases and 8,748 deaths" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/12). In Toronto, Kevin McGran wrote under the header, "Health Experts Aren’t About To Burst The NHL’s Bubble -- But Hubs In Toronto And Edmonton Have Their Weaknesses" (TORONTO STAR, 7/11).