After the NHL announced plans to resume the 2019-20 season in late July, a number of questions arose. One of the most frequently-asked items concerned protocols if and when players or essential staff tested positive for COVID-19. And now, we're about to get our answer.
On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that one of their players contracted the coronavirus.
Most importantly, the hope is that this player makes a full and unconditional recovery.
Sights will inevitably shift to the NHL itself as to their formal response to the news. Although we are still a ways away from the actual resumption of the season, practice facilities could begin to open in short order. Currently, the league is waiting to learn whether it will be possible for teams to open up practice facilities with proper health and safety measures in place.
While some have suggested this announcement could be detrimental to the NHL's return, it likely won't be too disruptive. A real problem could come if a player tests positive once the games begin. At that point, a large number of players, coaches, and staff could have been exposed to the player in question, potentially putting the season in jeopardy.
We are living in unprecedented times. The NHL needs to demonstrate that it's up to the task when faced with stern tests.