The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association are in constant communication as they contemplate resumption scenarios for the season, which was suspended on March 12 due to concerns about the coronavirus.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman chats regularly with NHLPA executive director Don Fehr. The League and the Players’ Association have formed a Return to Play Committee which includes managers and players.
“It is important to have the committee that has been set up with the players so that we can get feedback on the issues that are important to them and how to resolve them, and that we can communicate how we are focusing on things that we think it needs to be done, “said Commissioner Bettman to the NHL Network on Thursday. “It has been extraordinarily collaborative, constructive and cooperative, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the interaction we have.”
Wednesday, after a virtual committee meeting, the NHL and the NHLPA issued a joint statement saying they hadn’t made any decisions or set a timetable for possible return-to-play scenarios.
“I don’t think anyone is sure,” said the commissioner on Thursday when asked how close the NHL was to restart the season. “We are going to have to do it one step at a time, because the health and well-being of our players is paramount to everything we focus on.”
The joint statement said that if conditions continue to change favorably – subject to potential competition concerns between disparate markets – the NHL and NHLPA believe they may be able to authorize small group operations in NHL training facilities at some point midway through. at the end of May.
But he said the specific date remains unknown, and in the meantime, players and staff should continue to follow the self-quarantine recommendation that has been in place since the start of the break.
“We would like to be able to open our training facilities,” said Commissioner Bettman on Thursday. “We would like our guys to get back into shape. But this is something that we will continue to assess day by day.
“Our health issues for gamers really fall into two categories: the first is obviously COVID-19, and two, whatever we are going to do, we don’t want them to play games until they are out. back in shape.
“So we will continue to monitor things, and when the advice of the medical staff is good and the government authorities are comfortable, we will take the first step, which is to reopen our training facilities.”
The commissioner said the NHL and the NHLPA will remain patient not only for the resumption of this season but also for next season.
“We have great flexibility as to when we can start,” said Commissioner Bettman. “There is no magic for the next season to start in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that is something that will be considered.
“We will try to make good judgments, prudent and prudent. It is not a race to be the first to come back. When we come back, we want it to be at the right time, for the right reasons, under the right conditions. . “
Commissioner Bettman said the pandemic overshadows everything the NHL and the NHLPA are considering.
“We miss the match,” said the commissioner. “We miss our fans. We fail to watch our players play every night. We would be in the middle of the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] now. We strive to try to do the right things for the good of the game, so that we can come back and connect with our big fans as soon as possible.
“But as soon as possible, it means in the right circumstances, and for that, we will take our advice from governments at all levels and from medical personnel.”