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NHL Players’ Association chief says `so far so good’ as league sees 0 positive coronavirus tests

NHLPA credit gamers and the league for security protocols requiring each day testing, and for limiting play to 2 hub cities.

Zero gamers testing constructive for COVID-19 within the two weeks since NHL groups arrived at their two respective playoff hub cities. And a strong opening evening assertion on social and racial justice points made by the league and its gamers.

Given the uncertainty skilled hockey confronted in inserting its season on pause in mid-March, NHL Gamers’ Affiliation chief Don Fehr could not have envisioned a greater resumption of play 5 months later with the primary spherical of the playoffs getting beneath manner.

“At that time you would envision every kind of issues, however you have been simply type of mentally spit-balling whenever you did,” Fehr instructed The Related Press in a telephone interview Tuesday. 

“Up to now so good. That is about all we will say,” he added. “And we preserve our fingers crossed and knock on wooden, and throw salt over our shoulders and no matter else we will assume will assist.”

The NHL has made it this far with no hiccup.

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Minus followers within the stands in each Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, with gamers holed up in resort “bubbles,” and eight of 24 groups already despatched packing following a best-of-five preliminary spherical, the NHL is certainly again in its bid to finish the playoffs and award the Stanley Cup by early October.

And in a season by which the NHL was confronted with racial issues, which led to Calgary Flames coach Invoice Peters’ resignation in November, the league made its place clear upon its return. 

Minnesota Wild ahead Matt Dumba took the lead by delivering an impassioned speech on racial justice on behalf of gamers and the league earlier than the opening recreation in Edmonton on Aug. 1.

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“These feedback do not want me or anyone else to underscore their significance,” Fehr stated. “When the gamers take part in it, after they make their voices recognized, after they rise up for equality and non-discrimination, in fact you are feeling happy with them, and you are feeling glad by what they’ve finished. You could not really feel in any other case.”

Within the meantime, the each day spherical of testing has thus far paid off, with the NHL asserting Monday that 7,245 checks performed over two weeks have returned no constructive outcomes for the brand new coronavirus. 

“We designed a system consciously to try to reduce to the best extent doable threat of publicity and constructive circumstances, and thus far it is performed out that manner,” Fehr stated, with the caveat that gamers and workers should proceed being accountable.

However it’s much better than what’s occurred in Fehr’s former sport, Main League Baseball, which has skilled quite a few delays and postponements attributable to gamers appearing irresponsibly. 

“I do not’ know what the state of affairs is in baseball in any significant manner, besides that they do have harder issues in the event that they’re touring,” stated Fehr, who beforehand served as MLB’s union chief. “We opted not to try this, at the least for now. We’ll see what occurs subsequent fall.”

Fehr was referring to subsequent season, tentatively scheduled to start in December, when groups would seemingly resume touring for video games. Ought to the whole lot proceed going easily, Fehr expects the league and gamers to have additional planning discussions on the 2020-21 season subsequent month. 

“We’ll hope we’ll have the ability to get followers into the stands and life can return to regular sooner reasonably than later. However that will not be our name,” Fehr stated. “Ask me after Labor Day is my greatest reply.”

The first focus stays on ending this season, with NHL deputy commissioner Invoice Daly additionally inspired by how the previous two weeks have unfolded.

“Clearly, the shortage of any constructive circumstances is probably the most encouraging growth we may have hoped for,” Daly wrote in an electronic mail to the AP. 

“It is a testomony to the seriousness with which our gamers and membership workers have approached the state of affairs,” he added. “We nonetheless have a protracted strategy to go, and we’re the primary to acknowledge that. However we could not have requested for a greater begin.”

The NHL has additionally backed its gamers on racial justice points. “#We Skate For BLACK LIVES” is printed on a big banner positioned in every area’s finish zone, and “Black Lives Matter” is a fixture on the digital boards over every part entrance in Toronto. 

The league, on Aug. 1, additionally debuted a four-minute video advocating an finish to racism. 

“Racism is a societal concern that we aren’t immune from in hockey,” Daly wrote. “All of us have to do higher and do extra to remove it. And we really feel we have to be doing our half to realize that goal.”

Fehr drew upon recollections of the Civil Rights motion he witnessed rising up within the 1960s.

“I bear in mind the pre-Civil Rights Act, and I bear in mind the entire trauma and turmoil that occurred again then,” Fehr stated. “It seems that we’re on the cusp, if I can say it that manner, of ending that course of. And I actually hope that is true.”

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