NHL Assistant Commissioner Bill Daly reiterated to TSN Hockey insider Pierre LeBrun in an interview with The Athletic that Canada’s seven NHL teams have government permission to host a training camp and to open the season in their national markets.
On December 24, the NHL issued a statement “Based on our discussions (with provincial health authorities) over the past week, as well as our exchange of correspondence over the past 24 hours. However, there has been no joint announcement from the five provinces that many remain in a modified COVID-19 lockdown with non-essential events and gatherings pending.
Still, Daly says the league is ready to go – for both training camp and the regular season, which is slated for Jan. 13.
“Yes on both points,” he told LeBrun. “We have a thumbs up, the clubs have a thumbs up. We believe that we have very, very comprehensive protocols in place that will keep people safe as much as possible. And we look forward to working in our seven Canadian markets.
As one of seven non-returning teams this summer, that means the Senators can start camp in Ottawa on Thursday. Right now, the San Jose Sharks are the only NHL team not opening camp or the regular season in their home market.
“At the moment, yes, that’s correct,” Daly said.
Santa Clara County in California has a temporary ban on indoor and contact sports. Instead of home, the Sharks are expected to host a training camp in Scottsdale, Ariz.
As for the possibility – and some would say inevitable – that a player, multiple players or staff member will test positive, Daly said the league will play things by ear and react to the situation as it unfolds. .
“(NHL Commissioner) Gary (Bettman) likes to stay as flexible and nimble as possible, and he likes to avoid making hard and quick decisions on what-if scenarios that haven’t happened yet,” he said. declared.
“So I think we’re going to take the same approach to what happens if some people test positive and what that looks like. This strategy has paid off so far and I believe it will continue to pay off. We are comfortable with this approach. “
Given that the NHL will be trying to play the season in national team markets and given the contagiousness of COVID-19, Daly said the league may need to close particular facilities for a team in order to minimize any potential epidemic if the situation arises.
“We saw it during the off season with off season conditioning or last summer in a training camp where we went through periods where some clubs closed their facilities for several days and we made sure the problem was no more serious than him. looked like it could have been. And then reopened, ”Daly told LeBrun.
“Are we going to face this situation again? I certainly hope not, but it would be unrealistic to think that this is not a separate possibility. Again, we will deal with these situations as they arise.
Whatever happens, Daly said the league is just trying to make the most of tough and uncertain times.
“We are looking forward to this season, I think it will be unique and exciting. I think a lot of elements of the divisional roster and the schedule and how it works are going to be fun. So I’m looking forward to the puck drop, for sure, ”he said.