The New York Islanders were in Alberta preparing for a back-to-back set against the Oilers and Flames when the world changed. Word came down that the NHL was indeed following its frequent arena-mates in the NBA by suspending — er, “pausing” — its season.
Granted, the escalating news and public announcements of the preceding week made that moment seem inevitable (and for many, the coronavirus had long since already changed the world), but for the NHL that was its moment of COVID-19 reckoning.
What do we do now?
First, obviously, look after yourselves. If you’re in one of the growing number of countries around the world under mandated public precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, the lack of hockey or most other sports is probably not your chief concern right now.
As for how things relate to this site and the Islanders...what a crazy and unprecedented situation. We don’t know if the season will resume. It it does, we don’t know how many games (if any) might remain. We don’t know if any players’ (or staff, or bradcasters’) health will be impacted and affect their availability. We don’t know if there will be a normal playoffs — Bossy knows the NHL and NHLPA would like one for Hockey Related Revenue — or if it would be shortened, or even expanded. And we don’t know if the struggling Islanders will be in better position to shake their slumping ways if and when play resumes.
As it stands now, the Islanders are one point out of the last wild card spot. But a few reports have indicated that if the rest of the regular season were canceled, then they might use points percentage, which would bump the Islanders back up into the eighth seed, fit to be hammered by the top-seeded Bruins.
That’s all insignificant in the big picture, of course. But those are some of the things we’ll be mulling while sustaining our denial that all pro sports may be done for the spring. Maybe we’ll go full-lockout mode and dream up an alternate finish to the season, fan-fic style where optimal lineup choices are made to end the Islanders skid.
News of a Sort
- Each team issued its own boilerplate statement. Here’s the Islanders’ version. [Isles]
- You know what aids levity during strenuous times? PUPPIES! Here’s a Tori update. [Isles]
- Perspective: Johnny Boychuk feels lucky after still having both eyes. [Isles]
- The league is urging players to “self-quarantine,” working out at home rather than public gyms and such. [TSN]
- Gary Bettman recognizes there’s no way they can set a timetable right now. [TSN]
- This is not really similar at all, but former NHLer Rhett Warrener recalls a moment of brief in-season quarantine. [Athletic]
- WHO WILL THINK OF THE TANKERS? Among the considerations if the season is cut, is which lottery teams deserve how many balls. For real. [Sportsnet]
- Some team owners have announced they will pay part-time arena staff for games they would have worked during the stoppage. In Florida, Sergei Bobrovsky stepped up with $100k toward that effort, with teammates joining him and the ownership “putting in whatever else is needed.” Glad I’m not the accountant. [TSN]
Anyway, we’re in a historic time right now. All those lockout-year references you might’ve heard about “the last time the Stanley Cup wasn’t awarded was due to the Spanish Flu” are suddenly quite relevant. We’re living in an asterisk.
What About You?
And how about you? In my Real Job (TM), I’ve been immersed in COVID-19 information collecting. My kids are asking lots of questions about viruses. And I hear toilet paper is gone from local store shelves.
How is this strange time affecting you? Feel free to commiserate in comments (but please keep the political-spiral and conspiracy rants out of it, please. The point right now is to help reduce stress).