weather icon Drizzle
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

NHL keeps close tabs on coronavirus outbreak

The NHL already felt the effects of the coronavirus through a shortage of hockey sticks, and the league is keeping a close watch on the worldwide outbreak.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly spoke about the issue at the general managers’ meeting this week in Boca Raton, Florida, updating clubs on any possible precautions that could be put in place.

“Always have to consider all contingencies — and we are — but we certainly are not anticipating having to cancel or move games at this point,” Daly wrote in an email to the Review-Journal on Tuesday.

The NHL remains in contact with the Center for Disease Control and Health Canada and has been in regular communication with clubs regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) since January. A memo was sent to GMs and Board of Governors on Friday indicating the league is not considering canceling or postponing games, The Athletic reported.

The NBA reportedly sent a memo to teams that offered 10 recommendations to decrease risks of contracting the coronavirus, including using fist-bumps instead of high-fives and not taking items from autograph seekers.

“I talked to George (McPhee) yesterday about it, and I think Kelly (McCrimmon) at the GM meetings is getting an update,” Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer said Tuesday. “I know the NHL’s on top of it. I know there’s been some dialogue, but I think it’s preliminary. I think we’re due for more information going forward here. I know there is and will be a plan, but I don’t know what that is. It hasn’t filtered down to me yet.”

The coronavirus outbreak has impacted scouting, as the International Ice Hockey Federation on Monday canceled six events over concerns surrounding the illness, including four under-18 men’s tournaments.

The under-18 World Championship, one of the biggest events each year ahead of the NHL draft, is scheduled for April 16 to 26 in Plymouth and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The women’s World Championship, set for March 31 to April 10 in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, remains on the schedule, as does the World Championship from May 8 to 24 in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland.

“The IIHF Competition and Coordination Committee is also reviewing the sportive impact of the tournament cancellations and will present recommendations to the IIHF Council during its March meeting,” the IIHF said in a statement. “In the meantime, the IIHF Office continues to monitor the development of the coronavirus and will re-evaluate daily the capability of tournament organizers to host IIHF championships in April. Based on the developments of the coming weeks, the IIHF Council will be presented with a series of scenarios during its March meeting before deciding on the next course of action.”

The IIHF’s cancellations came on the heels of Switzerland’s top two leagues postponing their playoffs because of the outbreak after the Swiss government banned all public and private events involving more than 1,000 people.

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association’s Dream Gap Tour in Tokyo, which was supposed to run Wednesday through Saturday, also was canceled.

The NHL played preseason games in China in 2017 and 2018, and Daly told NHL.com last month the outbreak could impact the league’s decision to return in 2020.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus affected the production of hockey sticks. Two of the most prominent manufacturers, Bauer and CCM, temporarily shuttered factories in China because of the outbreak.

Knights forward Brandon Pirri said he ran out of sticks while playing for the team’s affiliate in the American Hockey League and was using a different model. He was able to use his preferred stick when he was called up Saturday.

Chris Davidson-Adams, the team’s head equipment manager, said last month he was able to stock up on sticks before the Chinese New Year holiday and has yet to see the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

“That’s the least of the world’s problems right now is me getting my sticks,” Pirri said. “It wasn’t the trainers’ fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It is unfortunate, but anyone that complains is ignorant because there’s a lot bigger issues going on right now.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the latest VGK news. Like our Golden Edge page