To ensure player safety upon a return to the ice, the NHL is looking to conduct daily coronavirus tests should the season resume. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly revealed that an extensive testing protocol is in the works as the league works towards its phased resume.
“We will have a rigorous daily testing protocol where players are tested every evening and those results are obtained before they would leave their hotel rooms the next morning, so we’ll know if we have a positive test and whether the player has to self-quarantine himself as a result of that positive test,” Daly said via ESPN. “It’s expensive, but we think it’s really a foundational element of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
The testing procedure, according to Daly, is not meant to detect cases that would result in shutdown operations but rather to be able to isolate any infected individuals before there is a chance for a wider outbreak.
“You need testing at a level sufficient to be confident that you’re going to be on top of anything which might happen,” NHL Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr revealed via ESPN. “If that turns out to be daily, and that’s available, that’s OK. That would be good. If it turns out that that’s not quite what we need and we can get by with a little less, that’s OK.”
Considering the league’s plan to bring 24 teams to hub locations for a modified postseason, daily testing through the entirety of playoffs would amount to millions of dollars. Commissioner Gary Bettman claims that about 25,000 to 35,000 tests would be needed at a cost of approximately $125 each. Making that investment could be a worthy one if it means that a 2020 Stanley Cup winner can be determined as Bettman plans.
“I want to make clear that the health and safety of our players, coaches, essential support staff and our communities are paramount,” the commissioner said of the league’s return-to-play plan. “While nothing is without risk, ensuring health and safety has been central to all of our planning so far and will remain so.”