The NHL remains hopeful about resuming hockey operations at some point in the future, though the priority for the league is the health and safety of all players. Therefore, an advised quarantine period for all players and personnel has been extended through April 30.
This marks the second extension for the league’s recommended quarantine period. Following the abrupt suspension of the season on March 12, players were asked to isolate themselves until March 27, which was then extended until April 15 and now is advised through the end of the month. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is continuously exploring contingency plans for the league’s potential return but needs the players to be in good health before coming together.
“When we’ll have an opportunity to return depends on things that we have absolutely no control over, because it all starts with everybody’s health and well-being,” Bettman said in an interview with CNN. “And until there’s a sense that people can get together, not just to fill our arenas but even our players to get together to work out, we don’t know when we can come back. But it’s something we’re monitoring on a daily basis.”
Once players get the all-clear from health experts and the league, there will likely be even more time to allow for a training period before getting games underway.
“As much as you may try to stay in shape with a home gym, our guys haven’t been on the ice now for a month, and they’re going to need 2-3 weeks to get back into playing shape,” he added. “So as much as we may worry about keeping everybody, not just our players or the NHL family, but everybody, safe from the coronavirus, we also want to make sure that our players don’t jeopardize their health by coming back too soon and not being in game shape.”
Should the season resume, the league reportedly has multiple plans in the works to award the Stanley Cup. Insiders have pinpointed that the NHL could resume in a neutral location such as North Dakota, while an reduced slate of regular season games could be played before launching into playoffs.