With three clubs currently paused because of COVID-19 issues, the NHL is taking further steps to attempt to prevent coronavirus spread among players, coaches and other personnel.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported on Thursday that glass positioned behind team benches inside arenas will be removed to help increase airflow. Players not receiving medical treatment and coaches are now prohibited from arriving to arenas until one hour and 45 minutes before the announced start time of a game.
Meetings will be switched to virtual experiences, and clubs are to use additional locker room space to allow for social distancing. Teams may also be asked to use portable air cleaners behind benches “to improve indoor air quality and mitigate airborne viral transmission.”
Similar measures have been adopted by other leagues during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, MLB teams opened suites to players so they could adhere to social distancing guidelines while changing clothes and, in some cases, watching games. NFL clubs separated personnel by position groups and utilized large conference rooms for activities such as film studies.
The Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild are all currently inactive because of the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols. Buffalo and Minnesota won’t play again until Feb. 11 at the earliest, and New Jersey is sidelined through at least Monday night. Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger, 61, is among Sabres personnel who recently tested positive for the coronavirus.
In total, the NHL has postponed 22 games since the start of the season on Jan. 13.