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COVID HAS THE NHL UNDER SIEGE


COVID SCORES, AGAIN

Remember when the world shut down in early March of 2020? Then sports went missing; until Dana White UFC’s president burst our sports blue-balls by creating fight island/UFC Vegas? Then soccer, hockey and basketball returned with no fans? Those were seen as good times and a progression in the right direction - however, seeing it again sucks.

As sports fans, we have been spoiled with a sense of normalcy. First 25% fan capacity, then 50%, then 100% in some places (looking at you NFL). Everything was going great … until it wasn’t. With COVID cases on the rise, this began forcing many organizations to regress to the no-fan rule. Case in point Montreal vs Philadelphia - albeit Montreal has been struggling since their impressive Stanley Cup run of last season, nothing to do with the fans but hearing boos whenever you have the puck in your own arena might take a toll. This could actually be a good thing for some teams. However, other teams thrive from that fan interaction.

Gary Bettman (the “commissioner” of the NHL … (yes I used quotes around his job title because I don’t agree with 90% of his choices) is in a tight spot. Every city has their own COVID protocols, with that being said, the NHL has full authority to override some of those choices. For instance, if Arizona wants to allow all their fans in the building the NHL can step in and say “screw that, you work for us, No”. Now, to be fair, Arizona only has about 30 fans, not including family members of the players - so, not a big deal. Now let’s look at the other options:

1. Suspending games

This kind of seems like a band aid covering a bullet hole (thank you, Taylor Swift). Bettman has opted to suspend some games until further notice. Obviously, the NHL wants fans in the stands to help pay players’ salaries. A few games have already been suspended, Boston’s next game is scrapped, NY Islanders are taking a mini-vacation, Calgary Flames are basically a spark now. So many teams are dealing with COVID that they may bring back the Taxi squad (which I was a fan of).

2. Cancel the season

Before people burst into flames over this, this most likely, probably won’t happen. Why? Because people like money and the networks don’t really care about safety, they will keep pushing the issue to make games happen. However, if cases and effects get too out of control then we will see another lockdown/shutout and have to go back to watching marbles roll around a track - if you haven’t watched that clip it’s brilliant.

3. Ignore it

Yup, this is an option. Ignore the problem until it goes away. This is how I see Pete Davidson dealing with all of his ex’s, ex’s. There is a very real chance that organizations could just ignore these cases (again, the NFL I am looking at you). The NHL obviously is not going to take this approach since they have cancelled some games and reduced fans in buildings, but still, it technically will always be an option. In conclusion, COVID is still here, cases are rising, people suck and Bettman is still the commissioner - oh, March of 2020, how I’ve missed you.



Justen Williams
Pro Sports Podcasters
NHL Analyst


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