The NHL has told its players they are allowed to leave their NHL cities as long as they self-isolate in their new location until at least March 27.
That’s a reversal from the NHL’s initial directive, which asked players to stay in their home NHL cities as the league sorted out what to do with its paused season. According to a source, the change in policy came following the recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday night that organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States for eight weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Update from the NHL regarding player activity and movement during season pause: pic.twitter.com/yeFjII7W49
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 16, 2020
The new directive means the NHL is looking at returning to action in May — at the earliest. The NHL and its players’ association are meeting regularly and are in agreement that if the league returns to play, there would need to be a short training camp before games resume.
The NHL’s schedule-makers are working through a variety of models to figure out how the season could be completed. When the NHL paused the schedule on Thursday, there were three-and-a-half weeks and 189 games remaining in the regular season.
As of Friday, commissioner Gary Bettman said he was not aware of any player testing positive for the coronavirus. Bettman said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday that he was “optimistic” about resuming play and being able to award a Stanley Cup for this season.
“That would be the goal,” Bettman said. “Health, safety, well-being of the NHL family, especially and including our fans, is most important. If the business considerations and the money were the only thing, then we and a bunch of others would keep playing.”
Bettman would not put a time frame on the hiatus, but sources have told ESPN that teams were told to look into building availability through July.