The NHL announced Monday that it administered 4,256 COVID-19 tests to 800 players and personnel in the second week of training camp, and had no positive results. The league had two positive test results in the first week of training camp.
Twenty-four teams are in the NHL Bubble in either Toronto or Edmonton. The playoffs begin with a round-robin format on Saturday. The NHL released a statement on Monday saying it’s confident in the protocols it has put in place.
“The NHL concluded Phase 3 [formal training camp] of its Return to Play on Saturday with no positive test results for COVID-19 among the 4,256 tests administered to more than 800 players during the period from July 18-25,” the NHL said in a statement. “During the two-week period of Phase 3, there were a total of two positive tests among the 6,874 total tests.”
NHL COVID-19 Protocols Working
The NHL’s COVID-19 protocols are similar to the NBA’s, which is housing its players in a bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The NHL chose two Canadian cities, Toronto and Edmonton, to hold its playoffs. There are 52 people per team, including 31 players, all of whom are regularly tested.
Odds to Win Stanley Cup
|Vegas Golden Knights||6/1||13/2||15/2|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||7/1||5/1||11/2|
|St. Louis Blues||10/1||9/1||11/1|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||12/1||25/1||18/1|
|New York Rangers||50/1||40/1||33/1|
|New York Islanders||80/1||40/1||50/1|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||100/1||33/1||70/1|
An advantage for the NHL is having its playoffs in Canada. That country has a total of 115,000 reported cases of COVID-19, vs the US, which has more than four million, with 424,000 in Florida alone.
The NHL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Willem Meeuwisse, said preparation has been extensive.
“We’ve had a lot of discussion with the health authority, and landed on a strategy that’s quite similar to healthcare workers where you assume that there’s a degree of exposure,” Meeuwisse said. “We still will do contact tracing because there’s degrees of exposure, and if we feel a degree of exposure is unusually high, they still may be quarantined. But at the end of the day, this is a protocol that has a lot of involvement and input and signoff from the Players’ Association, so as a group the players are comfortable with it.”
Players Adjusting to Quarantine
Hockey players are definitely not immune to the disease. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford revealed to reporters that he tested positive several weeks ago.
“The first few days that I started feeling symptoms, that was the hardest,” Crawford said in a video call. “The last couple weeks, maybe a little bit more, was a little bit easier. But I still couldn’t really do much in case there was something wrong with my lungs or my heart, so we had to get that checked out first before I really started pushing in the gym or come on the ice.”
The process of being in a virtual lockdown has taken professional athletes time to get used to. Montreal forward Paul Byron told the Associated Press there was definitely a learning curve.
”I was a little skeptical of the whole process before this all started: How was it going to work? How can they prepare this?” Byron said. ”It didn’t seem like they had much time, much notice. I’m actually pleasantly surprised coming to the hotel. It seems like they’ve got a pretty good setup for us.”