(Elmont, NY) It’s over an hour after the Golden Knights-Islanders game when we sit on the bus connecting the brand new UBS Arena to the nearest functional train station.
“What do you do with your big bag?” The driver is surprised.
– I came to the game straight from the airport. But I did it for nothing, tomorrow’s match was cancelled.
– Did you cancel the match? leave me some! ”
We wanted to report the enthusiastic feedback from the players, but here’s the best we got.
“We found out when we went back to the dressing room after the match,” Jean-Gabriel Bagu admitted, a few minutes after the 4-3 loss to Islanders in a penalty shootout.
“The NHL and the Players Association made the right decision. We love playing in front of our fans and have been playing really well lately, but it is out of our control. I am sure they made the decision based on the safety of the players and families.”
We think no one, among the islanders, would be incensed to avoid welcoming the Canadian, the team at risk of an outbreak. In the last two days, two players have been added to the absentee list linked to COVID-19 (Artturi Lehkonen and Laurent Dauphin), and Cedric Paquette is under administrative dismissal pending test results.
This is what the islanders have already presented in terms of viruses. At the end of November, shortly before the cases exploded in the NHL, they had seven players unavailable at the same time. Only one match was postponed, but its outbreak coincided with 11 consecutive matches.
That’s why head coach Barry Trotz did not act when asked if he agreed with the NHL’s decision to continue the season, despite the outbreak everywhere.
“They have the numbers and the people to make those decisions. If you can play, you play,” Manitoban simply replied. No one took pity on us when we had our own COVID cases. We and Ottawa were guinea pigs, to help the association collect data. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. For us and now we need to get out of this mess.”
Perhaps this is also why the team is so vigilant in its precautionary measures. Since the outbreak broke out a month ago, the islanders have worked exclusively by videoconference to conduct interviews. However, we suspect here that prevention has a wide back and that the always suspicious Lou Lamorillo takes the opportunity to keep journalists away, but that’s a whole other discussion…
For or against the break?
Officially, eight teams have been in complete shutdown in the NHL at least through Christmas, including the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, as of Sunday night. In fact, we can also add senators, planes, oilers, and canucks; Even if these teams don’t suspend their activities, canceling matches that require border crossings means they likely won’t be playing by the time the Good Saint Nicholas passes through their chimney.
With nearly half of the difference in hiatus, it’s questionable whether a generalized hiatus might not be the best option, whether it’s until Christmas or even 1is being January. The option would be more playable if it was confirmed that NHL players would not compete in the Olympics, as this would allow matches to be rescheduled in February.
Brendan Gallagher didn’t want to overstate this question.
“We have to play 82 games, we knew we were going to deal with that and that there was a possibility that we could restart the matches. The little Canadian right winger remembers that you don’t want to play in front of empty stands either.
“If you can move matches to a full stadium and solve after two weeks, that makes sense. But we don’t want to stop. Like everyone else, we want to work, to feel we have a goal. I’m sure the rest of the world feels the same. We want to find solutions to make it safe. We’re not closing any doors. Teams are already at a standstill, but if we’re able to play, we play.”
Trotz said he hopes the Christmas holidays will be enough to stop the outbreak.
“If they can use it to limit the spread, and other teams keep going in the meantime, why not keep playing? Trotz asked. You won’t be able to get all the matches on the calendar if we take breaks. We are one of the teams that have played the fewest games in the league. If we are suspended, we will have to play 23 games in 30 days, which is not going to be right for the athletes, the league or the fans. The league is doing the right thing. Let’s keep playing, we will find solutions along the way. It’s normal to have breaks in the calendar and we’ll adjust. .”
However, his team is working in the shadow of a city, New York, where there are 6,000 cases per day (moving average of the past seven days). In short, in these blazing environments, teams will have to take extraordinary measures to limit contact between their members and the rest of the population. Otherwise, the break will not work.
With Simon-Olivier Lorange, Journalism
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