NHL Allows Return To Training Facilities With Safety Guidelines
NHL teams are "allowed to reopen their training facilities for voluntary workouts on Oct. 15," according to Emily Kaplan of ESPN.com. The league on Thursday announced its offseason training protocols in a 19-page document that "takes into account social distancing; increased health and safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic; and competitive balance." A team "will need notice from at least five players before reopening its facilities for voluntary workouts, and a maximum of 12 players can be on the ice at the same time." There is "no official start date for training camp" or the '20-21 season. Players and staffers who participate in voluntary offseason workouts "must produce a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival and will be tested at least twice weekly." Anyone who has had COVID-19 "must also undergo a cardiac screening." Players "will be required to socially distance at least 6 feet if they use the locker room." They will be allowed to shower at the facilities but "cannot share towels, toiletries or any personal items" (ESPN.com, 9/24).
LOST IN TIME: In Pittsburgh, Mark Madden reported the NHL’s original target restart date of Dec. 1 is "no longer being considered." Jan. 1 is "just as unlikely." The "earliest option with any basis in reality is March 1, and that’s with a severely truncated schedule of 40-48 games." The NHL "derives 37% of its total revenue from ticket sales." The NFL "can be a made-for-TV product," but the "NHL can’t." Some "say the league could start with few or no fans present initially, then increase attendance gradually." But that is "absurd, because it puts the virus on a schedule." As such, it "wouldn’t be shocking to see the NHL skip a season and resume in October 2021," as that "might make the most sense financially." The NHL "needs to be able to sell most of the tickets," if not "all of the tickets, really" (TRIBLIVE.com, 9/23).