The NHL has extended its guideline for players and staff to self-quarantine until April 15 and it is possible the coronavirus pandemic could push that back even further.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the extension to the Associated Press in an email Tuesday. It adds an extra 11 days to the previous guidance of April 4, which Daly last week acknowledged was “a meaningless date” because of the rapidly changing situation.
“As we get closer to the date, we’re going to have to make decisions as to what to do then,” Daly said. “We’re biting this off in chunks.”
The NHL put its season on pause March 12 with 189 regular-season games remaining. Commissioner Gary Bettman said then he was optimistic about resuming the season and awarding the Stanley Cup.
The timeline for doing that still isn’t clear. The NHL has asked teams for arena availability dates through August, so it wouldn’t be inconceivable to see hockey last deep into the summer.
“Depending on how the country, the world handles the virus, I think there is a possibility of playing end of June, July, August,” Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Monday.
Several things have to happen first. President Donald Trump extended U.S. social distancing guidelines through the end of April, and the NHL said it will evaluate the situation 45 days into the CDC’s eight-week recommendation against gatherings of 50-plus people that runs until mid-May.
The NHL’s chief medical officer said getting players together in small groups is the first step toward potentially resuming the season. State, provincial and local lockdown regulations could affect the re-opening of team practice facilities for informal skates.
So far, four NHL players have tested positive for COVID-19: two each from the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators.
MacLellan said his staff is preparing for what small-group practices might look like.
“We’ve talked about that scenario taking place where we get on the other side of the virus curve and there’s beginnings of you can have small groups,” MacLellan said. “Could we structure something at (our facility) where we’re bringing in three, four guys at a time, how do we handle sanitizing the training room, the equipment room.”
Santa Anita scratched
The Santa Anita Derby, the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby, was to be run Saturday. However, it will be postponed until later in the season while Santa Anita remains closed for live racing during the coronavirus pandemic on orders of the Los Angeles County Health Department.
There are no known cases of COVID-19 at the track, officials said Tuesday. It has been closed to the public and only essential personnel have been allowed since March 12. The winter-spring meet is set to end in mid-June.
Track officials say they are continuing to have “constructive” talks with the health department and county Supervisor Kathryn Barger and her staff about the possibility of resuming live racing. Track officials say they submitted a proposal recently which they believe responds to the health department’s requests.
“We have yet to receive a satisfactory response,” the track said in a statement.
Training hours are being allowed at Santa Anita, where over 1,700 horses are stabled at the Arcadia track. Most of the 750 stable workers live on-site and officials say they are operating under stringent measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.
Santa Anita officials point out that other tracks nationwide are having live racing, including Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida and Oaklawn in Arkansas.
“They are running for exactly the same reasons that Santa Anita is trying to communicate to LA County officials — because the consequences of closing down the economic engine that fuels the community makes the risks and potential issues significantly worse when racing is closed and only training allowed,” track officials said.
The Santa Anita Derby is the latest in a string of Kentucky Derby preps to be postponed or canceled. The Kentucky Derby itself has been pushed back from May 2 to Sept. 5. Of the major preps, only the Louisiana and Florida derbies have been run since mid-March.
The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in Kentucky also were to be run this weekend. Aqueduct has canceled live racing and is being used as a temporary hospital site in hard-hit New York. Keeneland canceled its spring meet.
The owners of the New Jersey Devils of the NHL have made a six-figure donation to the state’s largest health care system for medical equipment for health care workers and first responders during the coronavirus pandemic.
Devils co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer and RWJBarnabas Health announced the donation Tuesday without saying the exact amount.
They described it as “significant and impactful.” The money was given to RWJBarnabas Health’s Emergency Response Fund to help combat the challenges faced by the medical community and its personnel.
RWJBarnabas Health has more than 35,000 system employees who treat thousands of patients daily in hospitals throughout the state.
The RWJBarnabas Health Foundation plans to acquire a variety of personal protective equipment, including N95 respirators and surgical masks, gloves, gowns, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, eye protection, and other necessary medical equipment, such as ventilators, which continue to be critically needed.
A's minor-league manager hospitalized
Oakland Athletics minor league manager Webster Garrison is hospitalized in Louisiana and on a ventilator with the coronavirus, according to his fiance.
Nikki Trudeaux posted her latest update Monday night on social media. She said the 54-year-old former major leaguer still required a ventilator to fight COVID-19 but hadn’t declined in his battle.
“He is not getting worse! He is fighting hard and making small milestones,” she wrote on Twitter. Trudeaux has been asking for nightly prayers with the hash tag “WebbyStrong.”
The A’s said there were no updates on a minor league staffer — they have not identified him — and said there have not been other positive tests within the organization.
Oakland released a statement during the weekend that “a minor league staff member has tested positive for COVID-19 and is under hospital care.”
Garrison managed the Class A Stockton Ports last season and was expected to manage in the Arizona Fall League this year.
Logano steps up
NASCAR star Joey Logano has established a $1 Million COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
The fund is from the Joey Logano Foundation in partnership with Elevation Church.
The money will be used to address a variety of needs, including educational equity and access, medical supplies, food distribution, and financial shortages throughout the greater Charlotte, North Carolina area and communities across the United States.