Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation Sunday that all large events and mass gatherings be put on hold for the next eight weeks, the NHL has changed its stance on allowing players to leave their NHL cities and return home.
In an update issued Monday morning, the NHL announced players can return to their home countries should they so choose but must remain in self-quarantine until at least March 27, “unless a longer period may be required in accordance with local mandates related to travel.” The update comes the morning following the CDC’s new recommendation, and makes more concrete what was already assumed: that the league would not resume play until the end of March or even mid-April at the earliest.
However, allowing players to return to their home countries seems to indicate that the NHL has no plans on starting up the paused 2019-20 campaign until beyond that initial estimated timeline. In fact, as part of the NHL’s statement, the league indicated that its objective is to continue providing regular updates and also provide “high-level guidance on potential of opening a training camp period roughly 45 days into the 60-day period covered by the CDC’s directive.”
If that holds, the 45-day timeline gives the training camp period a tentative April 29 start date. And depending on the length of camps, that likely means no season start-up until at least early May, but quite possibly later. The 15-day span between the proposed 45-day timeline and the 60-day period outlined by the CDC suggests a two-week training camp is possible and that a May 10 return to action might be the earliest possible date the NHL is back on the ice.
Want more in-depth features and analysis? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.