If you have paid any attention to the NHL and NHLPA’s Return to Play Plan you would know that it all hinges on the Canadian Provincial Health Authorities. Never before have non-hockey people held so much power over the NHL and they came down on them today. Not in a mean way or anything, but in a way that screams: “our hospitals are at or over capacity, we have no ICU space, we have uncontrolled community spread, we have our provinces under stay at home orders” way. It was needed and has thrown a wrench into the NHL’s plans.
First, it seems like they were waiting to see the schedule before deciding on what they wanted from the NHL to approve games happening in their jurisdiction without a bubble being involved. Here are their two different options to the NHL and NHLPA:
“The first option called for a “regular testing schedule for players, staff, coaches and close contacts, with close household contact testing required if players are living at home between travel episodes.” It also asked for “enhancing the schedule … to group games into blocks to limit inter-jurisdictional travel between provinces.”
“Specifically in the early part of the season, it will be important to make these considerations wherever possible,” Dr. Hinshaw wrote.”
The second option is the bubble option. Reminder that Canada hosted both bubbles this summer with great success.
“...It called for the NHL to “reinstate a ‘bubble’ model for the beginning of the season, similar to what was used in the Hub City Series in Edmonton and Toronto.”
The health authorities jointly said that they would support a “phased bubble model (full bubble for 4-6 weeks and then a modified bubble following) … or a full bubble model would be most appropriate.”
The Provincial Health Authorities are also calling for the delay of the start of the season if these two options are off the table.
I know this is disappointing, but this is what their job is. The risk in the plan the NHL put forth is higher than it needs to be and the PHA are trying to mitigate it. Let’s take this further: the NHL’s response will be very telling. Remember, the NBA already had to postpone one game.