Like the NFL, NBA, and college sports, professional ice hockey has seen a series of postponements, understaffed rosters, and cancellations as leagues pushed ahead with their plans for the start of their season this month during the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the beginning of the NHL season on January 13, when most teams play in their home stadiums, nine games have been postponed. Thursday’s matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights was the last when the league said a player and a member of the Golden Knights coaching staff were participating in the league’s Covid-19 protocols.
Nine more games had to be postponed due to postponements of the Carolina Hurricanes and the Dallas Stars. The Stars didn’t start their season until January 22 because of an outbreak, and the Hurricanes’ last four games have been postponed as several players tested positive for coronavirus. Further changes to the NHL schedule are expected in the coming days.
The National Women’s Hockey League announced Thursday that the Metropolitan Riveters, one of six teams that competed in Lake Placid, NY, in a two-week bubble season, went home after several members of the organization tested positive for coronavirus had been tested, which meant the end of the season in question with the games being postponed on Thursday and Friday.
The NWHL bubble started last Saturday. The teams are expected to play five games before the playoffs. The league was expecting more attention than ever as the semifinals and finals aired on NBC Sports Network. For the first time professional women’s hockey will be broadcast live on a major cable network in the United States
A cancellation would be detrimental to the league, which spent more than $ 2 million on its Lake Placid season – according to a person with direct knowledge of bladder surgery who was not authorized to speak publicly. The NHL has not indicated an extended hiatus is imminent.
In an interview earlier this month, Theresa Chapple-McGruder, a Washington epidemiologist whose recent work had focused on sports during the pandemic, said she was concerned about sports activities with new varieties of the virus emerging in North America.
“By the time we get to where we have vaccination rates that lead us to herd immunity, we have to play in bladders if there is any exercise at all right now,” said Chapple-McGruder, who doesn’t work with the NHL or the NWHL
“You’re in a cold environment indoors so the virus will live longer in the cold, and then all that heavy breathing and close contact – it’s exactly what you need to get the virus to spread,” she added added. “It’s similar to the meat packaging industry because cold helps the virus survive. Hockey is not baseball. “
According to NWHL protocols, if a player tests positive, that player’s team must also be tested and receive results within 24 hours. If games are played in the 48 hours before a player tested positive, officials and opposing teams must also be tested and get results within 24 hours.
Jan. 28, 2021, 10:08 p.m. ET
The NWHL bladder logs were created by doctors at NYU’s Langone Health System and approved by the NWHL and the New York State Olympic Regional Development Agency, which operates Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid. An estimated 170 league players and employees are allowed on site.
The Riveter last played against the Minnesota Whitecaps on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the league announced seven hours earlier that the Riveter would be withdrawn from that night’s game.
The league did not disclose how many players tested positive or when the positive results returned.
When asked if the Riveters would stay at Lake Placid until they tested negative, a league spokesman referred to the league’s press release which said, “The Riveter and health officials have worked together to get every member of the team up bringing home a way that ensures safety for everyone involved. “
“Our team is broken because it doesn’t have a chance to fight for the Isobel Cup,” Riveters coach Ivo Mocek said in a statement. “But we are focused on the league in terms of the priority of the well-being of all players and staff.”
Before the teams arrived in Lake Placid, Chapple-McGruder questioned the NWHL’s plans for a bubble. She said in order to “create a real, actual bubble” players should be quarantined for 10 days and tested regularly upon arrival. Teams from the Northeast, Minnesota and Toronto arrived two days before the game was due to start.
NWHL players should confine themselves to their hotel rooms when not playing or practicing, despite videos showing up on social media of players hanging out with each other while not participating in competitions. A league spokesman previously told The Times there may be fines for protocol violations, but the NWHL would not disclose the amounts.
A development agency spokeswoman said this month that the NWHL is responsible for ensuring that all protocols and guidelines are followed, and that state and local authorities monitor compliance. On Thursday, the development agency said it had made no comment when asked if its participation would change in light of the positive tests.
Before the season began, Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said that hosting the NWHL was “a real feather in Lake Placid’s cap”.
On Thursday afternoon, the mayor did not respond to a request for comment on the positive coronavirus tests.