As noted this morning by Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the NHL is instituting some changes to the in-arena COVID protocols. James Mirtle of The Athletic examines the changes, which include the removal of the glass behind the benches. In the memo, the league explains the change:
To allow for air flow to more easily move away from the benches where Players and Coahces are in close proximity to on another during games, Clubs/Arenas shall remove the partitions of shielding that are behind the home and visiting team benches.
In Mirtle’s piece, he explains that some team personnel are “on edge” about whether the season can be completed. Yesterday, the league had 40 players on the COVID Protocol Related Absence list and three teams–Buffalo, New Jersey, and Minnesota–with their facilities currently shutdown and games postponed due to an outbreak. The only division safe from disruption so far has been the North, which has not yet seen a game postponed this season.
- It’s not just players and coaches that have to deal with the reality of COVID-19. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reports that Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher tested positive for the virus last month and had to isolate in a hotel. The front office executive is now out of isolation and recovered. The league’s COVID Protocol Related Absences list is only for players and does not include staff—like Fletcher or Buffalo head coach Ralph Krueger—that have tested positive or required isolation for close contact.
- The AHL is trying to start their season tomorrow, meaning they’ll have to deal with their own COVID struggles. That started today when two games were postponed already. Due to league protocols, the Cleveland Monsters are unable to travel to Rockford to face the IceHogs on Friday and Saturday. The Chicago Wolves will play Rockford on Saturday instead. While the league has officially listed those games as “postponed” on the schedule, it is not at all clear if they will actually be rescheduled for some point down the line.