After the CDC recommended all gatherings of more than 50 people to be avoided for the next eight weeks, sports leagues around North America quickly realized that their suspended seasons may not be returning as quickly as originally planned. With that in mind the NHL has now issued a new directive to players according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, indicating that they are allowed to go home or leave the country but must stay in self-quarantine until the end of March. As Johnston explains, this comes in stark contrast to the league’s previous plan to keep players in their team cities and ready to return to practice. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman quotes the memo directly:
Our objective will be that, in addition to continuing regular updates, we will be able to provide high-level guidance on potential of opening a training camp period roughly 45 days into the 60-day period covered by the CDC’s directive.
That timeline can obviously change by the minute as we have seen, meaning at this point it’s hard to even speculate on when the NHL will return to action. Players leaving the country will only make restarting the league take even longer once a decision is made, and will very much mean any activation would be dependent on the travel policies of the involved nations.