Commissioner Bettman addressed the media last week about the concerns of the health and safety of the NHL players regarding the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus. His main concerns is to limit the access of the media in the locker rooms. His statement below sums up his concerns.
“We’re considering every conceivable option that may be because what’s happening is evolving not only on a day-to-day basis in terms of us staying on top of developments, but it’s almost hour to hour. We are considering — no formal announcement. Some clubs may be focusing on this on their own, but as you all know the locker room is a very intimate environment and players are not always fully clothed and it may be best to have media accessibility at a podium for everybody’s health and safety, not just the players’ but [the media’s].”
There is no doubt that the NHL players are more vulnerable to getting sick. Every year we see the sweeping affects of the flu that impacts so many players and pretty much every team. I don’t know how much affect the media in the locker room has with the overall health with the players, but if it helps just a little bit, I’m all for it. I would hate to see something happen that affects the game on a broader level.
We have already seen other countries take action with limiting large group activities, like sporting events and concerts. Just the other day the Women’s Ice Hockey World Championships was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. The tournament was going to be held in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia in April. The IIHF has cancelled six other tournaments and are in discussion daily about some of the other tournaments that are still on the schedule. So far the NHL has not brought forward any fan limitations or cancellations of NHL events. Hopefully as the warmer weather prevails, the virus slows down and the threats remain to minimum around the world.
I think it’s important to keep the fans and players as safe as possible. But I would think it would be devastating if fans weren’t allowed into the games and or the playoffs were pushed back so the warmer weather can naturally help keep the virus at bay. It’s a tough situation because there are so many different factors to considered. Even each NHL city is on different levels of concern. As long as the NHL is in contact with the Health Commissioner of the NHL cities, I think we let the professionals call the shots. The NHL should listen to their recommendations and move forward with any policies they think will be helpful for the players, teams, media, and fans.