NHL Players might be more concerned about returning to play than they’ve let on, according to Sportsnet’s Eric Engels.
In a series of tweets, Engels shines a light on some of the discussions he has had with players, revealing a dichotomous relationship between players and the possibility of returning to play. On the one hand, players are concerned for their safety and frustrated with the lack of transparency and attention being paid to those details in their discussions with NHLPA representatives.
On the other hand, one player suggests that the culture is such in the NHL that no player will choose to opt-out if given the choice. A few NBA players have made the decision to opt-out of the NBA’s return to play, and four MLB players made the decision not to participate in the 2020 season yesterday, citing health concerns. A culture of toughness and grit permeates the hockeysphere, making it considerably more difficult for a player to simply elect to abstain from play – even amid heightened health concerns.
The player culture makes the NHL’s decision about hub cities all the more imperative. Some confusion has surrounded the presumed decision for Vegas to host one play hub, considering Nevada does not appear to be the most prepared environment in terms of containing coronavirus outbreaks. Cases of COVID-19 have been surging in Nevada, peaking with 1,041 new cases on June 27th.
For the NHL, however, Vegas brings a lot to the table when it comes to providing accommodations for players and staff in their quarantine bubbles. Importantly, the final decision has not yet been made, and the NHL has insisted that the five remaining cities are all still very much under consideration.