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NHL inconsistent in COVID-postponements; league official defends decisions

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Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers

The NHL is in a difficult spot as COVID has run rampant in the league, causing numerous postponements recently.

But the league is getting a black eye for the inconsistent manner in which it decides which games should be played and which ones should be moved to a later date.

Example: The Philadelphia Flyers were missing six players who were on the COVID-19 protocol list, including Claude Giroux, Ivan Provorv, Travis Konecny, and Travis Sanheim, for last Thursday’s home game against the much-healthier Pittsburgh Penguins.

Yet, that game, which was streamed by Hulu and ESPN-plus, was played and, predictably, the Penguins rolled over the shorthanded Flyers, 6-2. Was it played because of the league’s commitment to the streaming services?

The Flyers now have four players on the COVID list, and they were expected to have some come off of it before Tuesday’s scheduled game with visiting Carolina. (As it turned out, Claude Giroux came off the list Tuesday, and Rasmus Ristolainen went on it.)

But the league, curiously, postponed that game.

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, defended the league’s decision.

In an email to Philly Hockey Now on Tuesday morning, Daly said there were numerous factors in the decision, which was “based on  totality of circumstances.”

Such as?

‘Recent trends of continued spread; overall manpower situation; positional manpower; team locations and rescheduling possibilities,” Daly wrote.

He said that the “number of team postponements to date” was also a factor, along with “visiting team circumstances.”

With that as backdrop,should the NHL halt the season for a couple weeks to see how the COVID situation develops.

Mike Yeo, the Flyers’ interim coach is against the idea.

“I guess I’d probably say let’s keep going because we’ve already gone through the worst of it with our group,” he said. “I only say that because our players are vaccinated, our staff is vaccinated. Obviously we’re very concerned and want to be cautious and be aware of what’s going on in the world. We don’t want anybody to get hurt. But with that said, I would say our players, for the most part, have been asymptomatic.”

 

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