On Friday, some of the Tampa Bay Lightning players and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus. They had to shut down their facility for the time being. Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs also tested positive. So with this, how close are we to starting once again in the NHL.
Well, there are reports out there according to the New York Post that the qualifying round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin on July 30. That is if there are no more potential outbreaks. It will be interesting to see if there are more outbreaks.
The NHL is expected to announce sometime this week when the playoffs will officially start and in what cities. It has been cut down from 10 cities to six cities. All three of the Canadian cities are in play.
Because of some of the spikes in the coronavirus across the United States, I would not be surprised to see NHL Gary Bettman have both hub cities in Canadian cities. Whether that is Vancouver, Toronto, or Edmonton. It seems like they are in better control of the virus than the United States is right now.
The other three hub cities in the United States could potentially be Columbus, Pittsburgh, or Las Vegas. We will see what happens.
When training camp does open up on July 10, players will be allowed to have 30 players and an unlimited amount of goalies. When the playoffs begin, teams will be allowed to carry 28 players and also an unlimited amount of goalies.
Teams will be able to travel to their respective hub cities on either July 23 or July 24. It is going to be interesting to see what happens. A lot of hockey fans are ecstatic and pumped for the season to resume.
Spare the Stars
Let’s hope no one else tests positive for the coronavirus. We don’t need star players like Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, or Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers to be testing positive for it.
That would be a bad look for the league. The good news is that despite the entire tests coming back positive, it doesn’t seem to be affecting their Phase 4 plans right now.
Those three players are the heartbeat of the NHL. They have a solid chance to win a Stanley Cup this season as well.
The NHL will be starting on the same day as the NBA will be in Orlando, Florida at the Walt Disney Studio Resorts. It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward. The NHL will be fine as long as there are no more cases. They will be also okay if they make the right decisions in regards to hub cities. This is a very crucial time period for the NHL to get it right here right now.
How close do you think the NHL is to starting up again? Leave a comment below.
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Follow Glenn Kaplan on Twitter @glennkaplan13.