It’s happening. The NHL return is gathering more steam. According to New York Post hockey scribe Larry Brooks, the NHL return to play efforts now include a committee to steer the league’s efforts to end the 2019-20 season pause due to the coronavirus. The committee which includes leading members of the NHLPA and NHL will advise on matters of the eventual NHL return,
In to league representation includes Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly. The league side will also include senior VPs Steve Hatze Petros and old school hockey guardian Colin Campbell.
NHLPA head Don Fehr, Mathieu Schnieder, and general counsel will represent the players. Active players John Tavares, Connor McDavid, James van Riemsdyk, Mark Scheifele, and former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ron Hainsey.
Both sides will include selected medical experts in the discussions when needed.
The NHL return will not only hinge on the group’s ability to create a workable concept but the player’s willingness to agree to it. While the Korean Baseball League has resumed play, according to Brooks, there is some fear that one mistake could lead to a full season cancelation and be more damaging than never attempting to resume play.
Daly told TSN that one infection, or even a few, would not necessarily halt play once it resumes.
“Everything depends on the facts and the entire set of circumstances,” Daly said.
Current thinking would include 30-man rosters, in case of injury or infection.
Pittsburgh is on the NHL shortlist to become a host city and is reportedly one of 12, which the NHL is considering. However, in Brooks’s report, he listed Toronto and Columbus as current favorites.
Campbell also spoke well of Alberta cities Edmonton and Calgary last week, too. Brooks, too, noted the Canadian currency exchange rate, which could save precious dollars as the NHL effectively quarantines teams at and near a host arena.
One issue area of concern for all sides are players with pre-existing conditions. Several players have diabetes, and other players such as Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang have had past issues which included blood clots. While those players are no more or less susceptible to infection, their outcomes could be worse if COVID-19 is contracted.
The answers are still yet to be determined.