The NHL should cancel their season right now. This is not an over-reaction for the league. This would be a responsible action in response to the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring COVID-19 or Coronavirus a global pandemic. The WHO website defines a pandemic as:
A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and spreads around the world, and most people do not have immunity. Viruses that have caused past pandemics typically originated from animal influenza viruses. (source)
The world is currently dealing with a pandemic. Some countries have been working on containment and control for a while now. Italy has recently banned all large gatherings and put the entire country into quarantine and all sports in Italy has been halted. A Juventus player has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Why is this important?
Hockey players are not isolated to hockey. As with other athletes, they spend a majority of their time not at the rink. NHL players and those who work in close contact with them spend time with others including the general public. Someone could be a carrier and get someone who works with a team including a player sick. It would not be intentional, but the consequences would be far reaching. You would have to test multiple teams to check to make sure all those players and staff have not been infected. It would add many more tests and potentially add in more patients to what could easily be an over-taxed healthcare system.
There is also the idea that it would be smart to fly players in safe zones into a “hot” zone of the virus for a game. It’s a game. A game that makes a lot of money and pays people more than most people make in a lifetime, but it is a just a game. Containment is vital when it comes to COVID-19 and flying people in and out of areas where the disease is present for a game seems to be the opposite of containment. A far better idea would be to either postpone the season until the virus is contained or flat out cancel the season until containment is achieved. It is far better to be proactive than reactive in this situation. Reacting means you are behind the eight ball.
Sometimes being pro-active means that it looks from the outside that you are over-reacting, but all it means is that you are working to prevent something major from happening. When you decide to stop all activities that mean groups of people will be in close proximity to each other and travelling in the middle of a pandemic, you are reacting appropriately to the situation. There is money involved, there always is, and it sounds like insurance will not cover the losses, but lives are worth more than money and it is important that everyone’s health and safety is put at the forefront right now.
Finally, Rudy Gobert of the NBA potentially has COVID-19. That means that the Toronto Raptors will have to be quarantined for two weeks as they played his team, the Utah Jazz, yesterday and he played. There will be other teams that have to be quarantined as well. Health and safety has to come first.
Please refer to Health Canada’s excellent COVID-19/Coronavirus information page on what you can do to help mitigate the risks of exposure and spread.
Oh, and the NBA has suspended it’s season:
The NBA has suspended the season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 12, 2020
It sounds like the NHL is not there yet.
It doesn't sound like the NHL will follow the NBA's lead tonight.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 12, 2020