Toronto Maple Leafs: NHL plan for COVID-19 tests is an encouraging sign

Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly and commissioner Gary Bettman. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly and commissioner Gary Bettman. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

According to a report from ESPN, the Toronto Maple Leafs and all NHL players will be tested daily for the COVID-19 virus whenever the season resumes.

One of the few things the Toronto Maple Leafs are sure of right now, is that they are set to face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs whenever the 2019-20 season resumes. Now though, there also appears to be some positive developments in respect of the COVID-19 virus itself.

According to deputy commissioner Bill Daly, NHL players will be tested daily for COVID-19 whenever games start happening. As per a report from ESPN, Daly said:

"“We will have a rigorous daily testing protocol where players are tested every evening and those results are obtained before they would leave their hotel rooms the next morning, so we’ll know if we have a positive test and whether the player has to self-quarantine himself as a result of that positive test. It’s expensive, but we think it’s really a foundational element of what we’re trying to accomplish.”"

This is an important and encouraging step by the NHL. It also shows they are not just talking the talk in taking every possible precaution to ensure the safety of the players.

In truth, the league had no other choice if they wanted the 2019-20 season to resume. It was something the players insisted on, to help minimize the chances of contracting the virus.

Leafs captain John Tavares is a member of the NHL/NHLPA Return to Play committee. As per ESPN though, he preferred to defer to medical experts rather than offer his own opinion on how often players should be tested.

As per Daly’s aforementioned reference to the expense, each test will apparently cost around US $125. At an estimate of between 25,000-35,000 tests to complete the playoffs, the NHL is looking at potentially as much as $4.375 million to fund the tests.

In theory this is something the league can afford to pay, despite all the revenue that has been lost since the 2019-20 season was suspended back in March. The trade-off is offering games once again to fans, and using this as an avenue to claw back some money.

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It is important to note the league has said they will only use the number of tests being mentioned, as long as it doesn’t compromise the supply for the general public. However, as per ESPN, commissioner Gary Bettman is confident 25,000-35,000 tests will be a relatively insignificant amount by the time the NHL season is ready to resume.

Of course, as we’ve already seen during this pandemic, there are no absolutes and all the planning and projecting in the world can only do so much. There are so many questions still to be answered definitively, such as where are the best hub cities to hold the playoffs and what happens if a player tests positive?

There really is still too much unpredictability when it comes to the COVID-19 virus. In this respect, it is also as much a case of wait and see as anything else.

Overall though, this latest report is still a positive sign of the NHL’s plan to combat the virus. Leafs fans can now cautiously look forward to seeing their team in action against the Blue Jackets some time in the next couple of months.

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What is your opinion of this latest report from ESPN? Has it given you cause for some optimism, or are you remaining cautious/weary at this point? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.