This NHL season is turning into a nightmare real fast. Behind football, hockey is my absolute favorite sport to watch. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are the best playoffs in all of sports and I will take that to my grave. What we are seeing unfolding before our eyes this season with the COVID situations is hard to watch. With the Flyers game postponed tonight, the league now has 5 teams actively on a playing freeze thanks to positive COVID cases. These include the Flyers, Sabres, Aves, Devils, and Wild. Not to mention the teams they were supposed to play who are now missing games. Per the League's official release from yesterday:
The National Hockey League announced today that two additional Buffalo Sabres games (Feb. 11 and Feb. 13 vs. Washington); three more New Jersey Devils contests (Feb. 11 and Feb. 13 vs. Philadelphia and Feb. 15 vs. Boston) and two additional Minnesota Wild games (Feb. 11 vs. St. Louis and Feb. 13 vs. Los Angeles) have been postponed as a result of the NHL’s COVID Protocols. A decision on the three teams’ resumption of practice and game play will be made by the League’s, NHLPA’s and Clubs’ medical groups in the coming days.
This is turning into a real issue. Some teams will have gone weeks in between games now. It's especially problematic when you have the NFL just successfully completing its season, the NBA playing, and college basketball playing all relatively unaffected. Maybe it's a result of each leagues different protocols in place. Maybe the other leagues protocols are simply better. I don't understand why a basketball player can be placed in protocol when testing positive or having close contact and the team can still play, but if a hockey team has a case the whole team has to be shut down for a week or two.
The Red Wings head coach brought up an interesting point via ESPN:
"The problem in ice hockey is that we play in a rink where the humidity is dry and the air is cool. My understanding, in the research I've done, is that it potentially lets that virus sit right there in the air. It doesn't dissipate," he said. "So we're in this situation that we're in. We have to do the best we can. The fact that games are getting postponed is unfortunate. But from our perspective, we have to do the best that we can with the protocols in place."
Maybe the NHL is just fighting a different battle than everyone else is right now. Either way I hope they can get control of this situation and do so fast. The world needs hockey. On the other hand maybe not having to watch the Flyers blow a 2 goal lead and play the most confusingly inconsistent hockey on a nightly basis will be a good thing. It's going to be interesting to see if all these games will be successfully played down the road, or if we are going to have a situation where some teams make or miss the playoffs just based on the amount of games they were able to play. I really hope this doesn't turn out to be the case.