Yesterday was a tough day for the NHL and their attempt to award a 2020 Stanley Cup champion. News broke that the Tampa Bay Lightning temporarily shut down their facilities due to three players and two staff members testing positive for Covid-19. The anxiety escalated even more when it was reported that Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews tested positive as well. Leaving fans concerned for the players and their return to the ice.
— Toronto Sun (@TheTorontoSun) June 19, 2020
Locally, it’s been quiet. According to GM Kelly McCrimmon, none of the Golden Knights players have contracted or been exposed to the coronavirus.
Since NHL clubs were permitted to open their training facilities on June 8, all players entering these facilities for voluntary training have been subject to mandatory testing for COVID-19… All players who have tested positive have been self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols. The NHL will provide a weekly update on the numbers of tests administered to players and the results of those tests. The league will not be providing information on the identity of the players or their clubs. -NHL PR
With the latest news from around the league, the question around Las Vegas is how will this affect the Golden Knights and their preparations?
So far 11 NHL players have tested positive since June 8th. However, over 200 players have been tested multiple times and results came back negative. While the positive test news may sound grim, it doesn’t appear it will delay the opening of training camps scheduled to begin on July 10th. Even if more players fall ill, according to the league it won’t impact the Golden Knights groundwork.
The league had a conference call with all of the general managers tonight, and I think the word is ‘let’s see where this goes.’ I don’t think there’s any movement at this point in time of changing the opening of camps on July 10th. I think they’ve set it so the final day of the Stanley Cup Final, if it happens on schedule is October 5th. -Elliotte Friedman, SportsNet
Hopefully, the Golden Knights will continue to report no positive tests through the next two phases. Currently the biggest concern is that players won’t officially be locked down until early August. At that point, team’s will begin their sequester. Up until then, it’s important Vegas players remain cautious.
I don’t think the NHL is surprised some players are testing positive, and in fact I won’t be surprised if we get more players testing positive in other locales… For now I think the NHL will be preceding business as usual but I think everyone’s waiting to see how many positive tests there.-Bob McKenzie, TSN
Overall, it’s a positive sign from the NHL that they won’t plan on delaying their return to play plan. Which means Golden Knights fans can continue their optimism and excitement for the chance to watch hockey again. Undoubtedly, there will be more failed tests in the weeks to come, but as long as the league feels confident with their containment process fans should expect postseason hockey.
Oh, and remember if you see your favorite players out and about make sure you continue to social distance. It will help the entire process, and Vegas’ chance to make a deep run for the silver chalice. Wear a mask so the boys can raise the Cup.