As per a report by Elliotte Friedman in today’s 31 Thoughts article, the NHL is going to hold NHL teams heavily accountable to their actions when it comes to the COVID virus and doing their part to stop the spread of the disease. Specifically if players break protocols that lead to multiple illnesses during the playoffs, there could be huge consequences. While the NHL has been rescheduling games for teams during the regular season, that leash is going to be very short during the playoffs.
During Monday’s Board of Governors’ meeting, Bettman made it very clear there would be serious consequences for post-season COVID outbreaks resulting from not following protocols. A couple of governors were left with the impression that if a team could not finish a series, it might have to forfeit.
Essentially, if a player(s) breaks the rules when it comes to COVID protocols and it costs their team a number of players because the virus spreads, the NHL won’t first look to reschedule games. Instead, they’ll look at why the breakout and spread of the virus occurred and the team could be penalized by having to pull out of the NHL postseason.
Friedman went into a bit of a conversation about Robin Lehner’s comments regarding every player getting vaccinated and how someone might have fed Lehner some misinformation about promises being made to relax protocols. That’s not accurate. Protocols are more likely to ramp up.
Friedman adds, “What happened with Vancouver spooked the league. During last week’s GM meetings, teams were told things were going to stay this way until at least the end of the regular season.” He added that the NHL is looking at requests from NHL teams to loosen some of the restrictions and it will be interesting to see how players react when it could mean a playoff series and a chance at the Stanley Cup is on the line.
Not Worth the Risk
While it’s understandable that players feel confined and would love to get out more than they do, that one mistake during the playoffs could lead to an entire team being ruled out of the postseason is stiff. It begs the question about how many players would risk it and how many teammates will hold each other accountable for making sure they do everything in their power not to screw this up for the rest of the group?
There’s the idea of being punished by the league. That said, for most players, being ostracized by your team is a far worse punishment. In Vancouver, no one has come out and said that Adam Gaudette was traded because the COVID spread in that organization originated with him, but some insiders have hinted that there’s something to that idea.
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