NHL's Chief Medical Officer Says League Shouldn't Rush Return from Hiatus

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2020

Fans pose below the NHL league logo at a display outside Falcon Stadium before an NHL Stadium Series outdoor hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, at Air Force Academy, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The NHL's chief medical officer, Dr. Willem Meeuwisse, cautioned against resuming the 2019-20 season too early which could put players, personnel and fans at risk. 

"From a medical perspective, I think we'd have to understand what the risks are for the different groups," Meeuwisse said Wednesday in a conference call, per ESPN's Emily Kaplan. "What are the risks to the players? What are the risks to the staff that would be required to run an event? And what are the risks to the fans? Once we know what those things are, I think we can make a more intelligent decision."

Like almost every major sports league, the NHL suspended play indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to NHL.com's Nicholas J. CotsonikaMeeuwisse also said he has spoken with colleagues from the NBA, NFL and MLB to ensure they "have sort of a common base for making decisions."

As the league went on hold, officials told players they were allowed to travel home but were required to remain in self-quarantine. The self-quarantine period was slated to end Friday but was extended to April 6, per The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.

Two Ottawa Senators players tested positive for the coronavirus and remain the NHL's only documented cases so far.

When the league began its hiatus, commissioner Gary Bettman emphasized his desire to complete the current season and crown a Stanley Cup champion.

TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the NHL asked teams to provide availability for dates in August, indicating the season could extend into late summer.

Meeuwisse told reporters that players would have an abbreviated training camp before the season restarted in order to get the necessary conditioning.

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