Friday, 12 June 2020

Fools Rush In

As all fifty states in the United States of America re-open, it had to be understood that the number of COVID-19 cases would spike once again. There was nothing even close to suggesting that America had the coronavirus under control, and we know that politicians in that country began to demand that the economy start moving again. As a result, we saw huge spikes in some states this week as people began congregating and mingling once again. I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, but the slow re-openings of some cities, states, provinces, and countries we've seen across the world seems to be the best way to move forward, but I guess that's anti-American when it comes to the country's economic plight under the weight of this virus. Therefore, it should be no surprise that we've now seen one professional hockey player test positive as they return to their respective teams with the NHL pushing its agenda forward as well.

According to reporting by The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa today, "[a] symptom-free Bruins player reported to Warrior Ice Arena for Phase 2 of the league's return to play and tested positive for COVID-19. The unidentified player, who remains asymptomatic, has subsequently been tested twice. Both results were negative."

I have hammered away on the NHL for trying to restart this season for a variety of reasons and the stupidity they show with this exhibition of pride in trying to finish the 2019-20 season, but I guess it will take a player being hospitalized or even dying of the coronavirus for them to get the message. Yes, that seems like an extreme way to send the message, but the NHL doesn't seem too concerned with risking the health of its players.

It now begs the question that with this unidentified Bruins player now in indefinite quarantine, what are the chances that we'll see more teams experiencing the same thing? My guess is a few more at least, and that should be concerning when it comes to the NHL trying to get its season restarted when some teams have yet to even assemble.

We've already seen a chunk of the NBA players who will be isolated at Disney World in Florida begin to meet and vocalize their dissent with the restart plan for the NBA. NHL players have individually expressed their concerns not only with the plan to return, but being away from their families for an extended period of time. If players want to have their families join them at some point during the NHL's return, the chances of one of them bringing the virus in with them is very good when one considers this isolated bubble the NHL plans to hold. And if that happens, does the NHL scrap the season once and for all with every player now at the risk of being infected?

The NHL would be wise to eat the losses on this one before there are human lives lost. Yes, I get that the NHL is a business, but it claims billions of dollars in revenue each year and posts billion-dollar profits each year if we're to believe the statements the NHL publishes. This league is not hurting for money whatsoever, so start figuring out how to open 31 rinks in the fall rather than trying to figure out how to open two rinks in July.

I know this is never going to be resolved without either the season ending through the Stanley Cup being awarded or because the NHL mandated a second shutdown, but I implore the owners to do what's right by the players. They're the ones putting their health at risk by stepping on the ice and into this bubble created by the Bettman's COVID-19 task force.

Honestly, take a page out of the NBA's book on this one in that if there are players who do not want to return, don't force them. For those that do want to return, have fun. Award the Stanley Cup to the team that earns it despite there being players who opted not to return. Include those players on the Stanley Cup's engraving as they had played the 60-or-so games that got them to the Round of 24. It would be good if the NHL would actually listen to its partner in the NHLPA on this one and allowed some flexibility without punishment for those players who don't want to put themselves in harm's way.

Just once, NHL, I beg that you stop thinking about the money, and start thinking about the humanity.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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