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NHL Not Doing Right by Fans, Teams in Allowing Islanders and Rangers to Play




It would have seemed like the logical thing for the National Hockey League to have stepped in when the San Jose Sharks went through their COVID outbreak earlier this month. And at some point, after the New York Islanders announced that Zdeno Chara was the latest player to enter COVID protocol on their roster, logic would have dictated that someone from the league office would have started to postpone the Isles upcoming stretch of games.

Yet, a little over 10 hours away from the drop of the puck between the Islanders and New York Rangers, which will be the first between the bitter rivals at UBS Arena, the league has remained mum about the status of the game. Down seven players due to COVID, the NHL should have stepped in and postponed Wednesday’s tilt with the New York Rangers.

The league has done themselves no favors by allowing the Islanders to play on as the outbreak has only gotten worse since Josh Bailey became the first player to have to enter protocol. He’s been stuck in Florida quarantining since last week and the issue has only ballooned.

The Islanders are just the latest team that has had to deal with COVID this season. san Jose went through an outbreak of their own that forced seven players and three coaches into protocol. The Ottawa Senators had at least 10 players and staff enter protocol and forced the league to postpone three games on their schedule.

Hellish Week Continues for Islanders with Latest COVID, Injury Issues

Now the Islanders are center stage as the latest team to have to deal with the virus going through its dressing room and the effect of missing a large chunk of the NHL lineup is surely being felt.

Yes, the New York Islanders had been struggling before COVID sidelined seven of their players, but the Islanders have had to scramble to call up players from AHL Bridgeport which hasn’t helped the already struggling team.

So at what point would the league step in and put an end to the madness? Ottawa’s slate of games was halted when 10 of its players and assistant coach — and former Isles bench boss — Jack Capuano tested positive for COVID-19.

Is that when the NHL would finally take action? Whatever that threshold is it wasn’t conveyed to Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello when he spoke with the league.

“I have no knowledge of what the threshold is,” Lamoriello said. “I believe that’s in the hands of the doctors, both in the National Hockey League and the Players Association, and the infectious disease people. I really couldn’t answer that. I’ve asked the question, but I don’t know if there is.”

The New York Islanders prepared on Tuesday afternoon as if there would be a game on Wednesday, as did the Rangers. Publically, the Rangers didn’t appear too concerned about playing the  New York Islanders during their current outbreak.

Ryan Strome responded with a rather blunt “no” when Mollie Walker from the New York Post asked if he had any concerns about playing the Islanders under the circumstances. Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said he wasn’t aware of any doubt about the game taking place.

Still, you have to imagine that the Calgary Flames and the Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t overly thrilled to line up across from a team that has been dealing with COVID on a near-daily basis over the weekend.

For now, it seems the NHL is hellbent on allowing the rivalry matchup to take place on Long Island the day before Thanksgiving as a rolling Rangers squad travels to face a depleted Islanders team.  The NHL needs to squeak in every game it came because of the Olympics this year, but at what cost is that coming at by allowing teams to play under these circumstances.

Is it good for the NHL product or for the teams that could potentially miss out on important points in the standings? Or how about for the fans that have shelled out good money to attend Wednesday’s game?

It wasn’t fair when San Jose went through it and the league is now repeating that mistake with the New York Islanders.