Hellebuyck, others wonder if NHL COVID protocol, the break is ‘over the top’


COVID has prompted the NHL to postpone a series of games lately and extend the vacation. Everything indicates that the NHL is an official announcement of confirmation that its players will not be competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics. It is truly understandable that Connor Hellebuyck and other NHL players are feeling restless.

In fact, Hellebuyck wonders if NHL COVID measures like extended vacation break can be considered “exaggerated”.

“I can’t speak for everyone, but the feeling for myself… it’s a bit of a stretch,” Hellebuyck told reporters in Winnipeg on Tuesday. “You see leagues like the NFL adapting and, I think, doing it right.”

Judging from other comments, other NHL players and executives share Hellebuyck’s questions about the COVID break and protocols.

But does that prove them right? Or, by throwing up the idea of ​​“pushing through” these COVID-related disruptions, would the NHL risk repeating the same mistakes that keep the cycle going? Few of the answers are easy or will make everyone happy.

Hellebuyck, ROR, Yzerman, others wonder if NHL should relax some COVID protocols

Among others, Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman sparked debate over how the NHL could handle COVID protocol and testing with weekend comments.

“I really don’t know what the right thing is. Ultimately I think – and now I’m getting political – but at the end of the day our players test positive with very few symptoms, if any, ”Yzerman said.

“I don’t see it as a threat to their health at this point. I think you could take this a step further and ask yourself why we are even testing, for guys who have no symptoms. “

Earlier this week, Blues center Ryan O’Reilly expressed views similar to Yzerman and Hellebuyck. In MMR’s opinion, the NHL should administer COVID testing to players showing symptoms.

NFL, other leagues are experimenting with different setups

Indeed, as Hellebuyck said, the NFL has changed its testing policy. Via the NFL, they move on to “strategic and targeted point tests”. NBA commissioner Adam Silver is launching a similar logic about their policies.

Rumors of being asymptomatic have not been lost in the NHL. Consider some language from a Sunday press release.

While there has been a recent increase in positive COVID test results among players, coaches and hockey staff, there have been a low number of positive cases that have resulted in worrying symptoms or serious illness. Therefore, NHLPA and NHL medical experts have determined that, with virtually all players and club hockey staff fully vaccinated, the need to temporarily shut down individual teams should continue to be made on a case-by-case basis. case.

Would the NHL move from this policy of closing individual teams on a “case-by-case” basis to selective player testing? Looks like some in the hockey world are hoping for it.

Don’t forget player families and other factors

Really, it’s interesting that Hellebuyck expressed his concerns about a possible ‘hype’ with the NHL’s COVID protocols / pause while talking about the vacation.

After all, wouldn’t the holidays be a time when family comes first? Unless players completely isolate themselves from their families to get through an NHL season, they aren’t just at risk of COVID outbreaks with their own teams; family members could also be at risk.

This is where things get complicated.

[Details of COVID prompting extended NHL holiday pause]

Several outlets note that, as nice as it is for omicron to be a milder COVID variant, it’s too early to be sure.

Rick Maese of the Washington Post reports that the NFL adjustments – something Hellebuyck and others might seek for the NHL – appear to be dividing various pundits.

“From an epidemiologist’s point of view, this is not ideal,” said Zach Binney, sports epidemiologist at Oxford College of Emory University. “But it’s nuanced.”

“Even though no one is likely to have a bad outcome,” Binney said, “if the omicron is tearing the population apart really quickly, we’ll have a strong upward curve in cases. Even if only a small percentage is serious, this could at least locally overwhelm already overburdened health systems. ”

If it’s true that COVID has lingered because of “half-measures” (arguably ending lockdowns too hastily, insufficient vaccination rates), then a willingness by the NHL to just get the ball rolling seems worrying enough. .

Maybe it’s just not possible to be as safe as humanly possible, and also to function like a sport. Most of those who debate these topics would probably agree that these questions are not easy to answer, anyway.

Hoping that the NHL makes the right choices more often. Even if that means protecting the players, staff and fans first, and passing things off like a full 82-game season second.

After a few hectic weeks, it’s probably best not to expect a smooth ride.

James o’brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.


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