With the NHL’s report today announcing 23 confirmed cases of coronavirus out of the 396 players in camp, data points are emerging that might reveal the NHL’s risk tolerance as it returns to play. Still, we remain in the dark about what it would take to shut the whole thing down, per the Athletic’s Justin Bourne. Presumably, so long as the integrity of the competition remains intact, games will go on – the adjudication of that line provides a ton of interpretability, however. It’s rote for teams to lose a player or two before the playoffs due to injury, but there would never be a threshold for cancellation prior to coronavirus. Terms of a shutdown are said to have been defined in the recent agreement between the NHL and NHLPA, even if we don’t yet know its definition. More from Bourne and elsewhere around the NHL:
- Bourne adds an interesting wrinkle, noting that with so many players from the Toronto area, the threat of breaking the bubble is greater in Toronto where family and friends are the temptations versus the alluring entertainment options of, say, Vegas. It’s nice to think that all players and staff will adhere to the strict rules of the hub quarantine, it’s also likely unrealistic.
- Bourne also touches on some details of the proposed CBA. With the help of The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis, Bourne notes that entry-level contracts are expected to see a bump in pay, a surprising evolution that obviously benefits young players in a strictly financial sense. But the pay increase may also incentivize teams to prioritize veterans on minimum deals over a max ELC prospect. The balance between paying young players an acceptable wage and washing out the market for minimum-wage vets is a complicated relationship in all sports, but if the proposed increase holds, NHL clubs could find increased value in a minimum-price veteran.
- NHL Players have until next Tuesday, July 13th (the start of Phase 3) to opt-out of the 24-team playoff, veteran NHL writer John Shannon reminds us. A number of players in the NBA and MLB have chosen to opt-out of the season, but we haven’t heard as much of those rumblings from the NHL. It’s been presupposed that the culture of toughness would attach a stigma to players electing not to play, but we should find out for sure within the next week.
- Shannon also notes that Oiler’s owner Daryl Katz played a key role in moving the NHL’s hub location from Las Vegas to Edmonton (via Twitter). Katz spoke to the NHL Board about the safety benefits of hosting play in Edmonton, and he was apparently convincing. The surging number of coronavirus cases in Nevada surely played a role as well.