The NHL announced Monday that it has not received any positive coronavirus tests over the past week. The league administered 4,256 tests to more than 800 players during that span.
It’s a positive sign as the NHL enters Phase 4 in its return-to-play plan. The 24 teams participating in this summer’s tournament traveled to their hub cities (Toronto for the Eastern Conference, Edmonton, Alberta, for the Western Conference) on Sunday. Each team gets one exhibition game this week before meaningful games begin Saturday, Aug. 1.
The NHL says that during training camps, there were a total of two positive tests, and both occurred during the period of July 13-17.
Each team has brought a 52-member traveling party to the hub cities, and from now on everyone in the bubble will be tested daily. Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that will cost the league “millions” but is a necessary measure to complete the 2019-20 season. The NHL waited until as late as possible to name its restart locations, and chose two Canadian cities because of their relatively low COVID-19 numbers.
The league has made it a policy not to identify anyone with a positive test, and decided to designate all injury or medical absences as a player being “unfit to play.”
“We’ve talked to the NHLPA about it and continue to feel that medical privacy is important in this process. Having said that, we have an obligation as a league to have some transparency with respect to the COVID virus,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “At least for now, we’re going to maintain a policy where the league is announcing [testing] numbers and clubs are prohibited from giving any information with respect to COVID test results; and, for the purposes of making the system work, any injury information, going forward.”
Last week, Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19, but recovered. The diagnosis forced Crawford to miss nearly all of Chicago’s training camp, however he traveled with the team to Edmonton.
“The first few days that I started feeling symptoms, that was the hardest,” Crawford said in a video call. “The last couple weeks, maybe a little bit more, was a little bit easier. But I still couldn’t really do much in case there was something wrong with my lungs or my heart, so we had to get that checked out first before I really started pushing in the gym or come on the ice.”