As you’re likely aware, the NHL has set its schedule and is pushing forward despite there being resistence from a few key folks who have to sign off on the NHL’s masterplan for the 2020-21 season. The five Canadian provinces were mulling over the NHL’s latest plan that was presented as it seems that Canada is taking this viral pandemic fairly seriously with two province in lockdown, two more enacting lockdown shortly, and one restricting travel into the province. The battle between the NHL and these five provinces continues tonight, but it seems we got a small update from TSN’s Darren Dreger that makes me proud of this country’s provincial health ministers.
First, the update from Darren Dreger posted earlier tonight. It reads,
Obviously, there is concern about transmission of the virus among provinces and cities where these teams will play, and the health ministers are doing the right thing by demanding as many safeguard tests and/or by having the NHL play in a bubble as they did in Edmonton and Toronto for the playoffs which worked so well. I cannot stress how smart this ask is of the NHL, and it’s one that the NHL should be willing to meet if it wants its precious season to be played out with travel.
If the NHL is working on a response that’s anything but “ok”, call the whole thing off. As I stated on Saturday, screw the NHL if they think they can have freedoms in those provinces that citizens of those provinces currently don’t have. The very ask by the NHL while Canada struggles to maintain some control over this virus was both ignorant and arrogant, but this response the NHL is working on to the health ministers, assuming it’s not the word “ok”, proves that the NHL cares not about the communities in which they play.
The OHL is finding out that the provincial lockdown in Ontario means something as they pushed back their start date for a season once again today. The league originally wanted to start on December 1 as per an August announcement, but that start date was revised on October 29 when the OHL announced that training camps would start on January 22 with a February 4 start date for the season. As stated above, that plan has now been scrapped with the provincial lockdown in combination with the closed Canada-US border, so the OHL will sit and wait like the rest of us.
Why should the OHL’s decision matter when it comes to the NHL? The provincial lockdown has to have teeth or people will simply ignore it. If the Ontario government wants people to know how serious they are with respect to the lockdown’s purpose, tell the NHL to kick rocks. No exceptions can be granted to millionaire hockey players when kids can’t be out on rinks playing shinny. It completely flies in the opposite direction of what a lockdown is supposed to accomplish. It’s that simple.
At some point in this entire charade, someone has to realize there are things to be more thankful for than hockey. Think about what you give thanks for when saying grace at your holiday meals – health, happiness, family – and how those things are affected by COVID-19 this year. Now ask yourself how they would be saved by hockey if the NHL was allowed to operate as they want. If the answer is “they aren’t”, allowing the NHL to operate unfettered in five provinces makes little sense to the overall health of this country.
Again, if the NHL doesn’t agree to the health ministers’ asks for additional testing procedures and/or a bubble, then the NHL can move its circus to the US for the coming season. This is not an unreasonable ask during a worldwide panedmic, and the NHL knows it. This ask will cost them more money, though, and that’s the entire point of this charade for the NHL – money. Making it, losing as little as possible, and pushing forward with more ways to make money off everyone involved.
Stick to your guns, health ministers. Either the NHL plays ball by your rules or they don’t play. Anything less is a failure by our governments to its own citizens when one considers that families can’t celebrate the holidays together, small businesses have suffered through what is usually their biggest economic season, and kids’ sports have all been cancelled until further notice.
If those three things don’t matter to you, you’re free to enjoy all the NHL action you want this season. For the vast majority of Canadians, though, these three things are vitally important to our day-to-day lives, and we want those things back sooner rather than later.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!