Edmonton, Toronto: NHL presents its plans

Hockey: - 25-07-20

(Toronto) Steve Mayer went through a few anxious moments last week.

Amid preparations for the NHL relaunch, the league's director of content must have wondered what rain and flooding at Rogers Place in Edmonton - one of the two hub cities, along with Toronto - would mean to the plan. .

Local officials said at the time that they did not think it would be a hindrance.

The game resumes Tuesday with the preparatory matches for the revival as such, from August 1.

Mayer confirmed on Friday that, despite the water cascading down the lobby and other parts of the arena, which opened four years ago, everything is on track.

“We were a little scared, for sure,” he said. But there is no problem. Everything has been fixed. "

The league has revealed its plan for health and safety, as well as information on broadcasts and player equipment. No supporters will be allowed in the arenas.

"(This will be) one of the most unique and demanding adventures (in league history)," said Commissioner Gary Bettman. It’s no coincidence that the hub cities are Toronto and Edmonton given the emphasis on health and safety related to COVID-19. "

NHL staff will be housed and play in separate bubbles from the general public, under an agreement with the federal government.

NHL chief medical officer Dr Willem Meeuwisse said the project has been thoroughly planned, including with the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as with provincial and local authorities.

But he added that it would be wrong to assume that there will be no positive tests once the 24 teams - each with a group of 52 people - arrive in the secure zone on Sunday, to resume a season suspended at mid-March.

“We don't expect it to be perfect,” said Meeuwisse. We anticipate with the number of people that we're going to have positive tests, and we have a pre-designed method and process for dealing with it. "

The NHL, which reported two cases among more than 800 players tested, in the first five days of camps last week, will use DynaLIFE Medical Labs in Edmonton and LifeLabs in Toronto, for daily testing for COVID-19.

“We didn't want to embark on a strategy that was going to take protective gear or testing away from vulnerable populations and healthcare workers,” Meeuwisse said. We have contracts with companies which we have been assured have excess (testing) capacity. "

A total of 30 players have tested positive during voluntary training at club facilities from June 8 to July 12. There were 13 other positive results outside of the official protocol.

Meeuwisse said there has been a lot of thinking about what a positive test of a player or staff member in the bubbles would have in impact, in terms of exposure and contact tracing.

“(We) have adopted a strategy quite similar to that of healthcare workers where you assume there is some degree of exposure,” he said. The only thing we can't do with players is put masks on them when they play, but we mitigate that risk by testing daily.

“We will continue to do contact tracing because there are varying degrees of exposure. And if we think the exposure is unusually high, they can still be quarantined. But at the end of the day, it's a protocol that has a lot of involvement and input and approval from the NHL Players Association.

“As a group, the players are comfortable with it. And I think if the players are uncomfortable enough, they will have the option of not participating. "

As for daily life inside the bubbles, each has 14 restaurants for players and staff, as well as a concierge service for deliveries.

BMO Field in Toronto - normally the home of the FC and the Argonauts - is part of the bubble, serving as an outdoor recreation center.

Four-time Grammy winner Michael Buble will perform the national anthems for the opening games on August 1, while EA Sports will provide crowd noise.