The coronavirus has put everything on hold, and that includes all major-league sports. The NHL is near the end of the season and the Nashville Predators are hoping to clinch a playoff spot. The pause has led to many questions about the last 12 games on the schedule and what it means for the wild-card race the Preds face with the Canucks.
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The Predators have more points and a better point percentage than the Canucks. However, the Canucks have one more win. We will be on standby for the next few weeks, waiting to see how the NHL is going to move forward. Will they still play these last games or will they want to move straight to the playoffs?
The break in action is going to help many players who could use time to recover. At 37 years old and having an off season, I doubt Pekka Rinne hates the idea of trying to get back on his game. He would like to come back in great shape, physically and mentally, to finish out what is probably his second-to-last playoff push. On the other hand, young goaltender Juuse Saros is coming off of three great performances, only allowing two goals in all. Hopefully this time off doesn’t take him out of any rhythm he has developed this year. Many players, especially those with less experience, can rely on a zone or mindset they find themselves in while playing well.
This team needs to stay healthy during this time, but also recover from any injuries faced in the regular season. Calle Jarnkrok had recently been out day-to-day with an undisclosed issue, as did Dan Hamhuis with his lower-body injury. These injuries may not be a shot to the face (Hamhuis can attest to that), but they might as well tend to the damages while given the time.
One thing that the NHL has avoided, unlike the NBA, is having a player test positive. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz has made it harder to think of a return of play. We are hoping the NHL can maintain its luck and keep their players healthy. I’m pleased no one on the Predators decided to touch a bunch of microphones in doubt of the virus.
Predators take Precaution
Hopefully, the season or playoffs can resume soon, so one of the main concerns is keeping everyone healthy. Sean Henry, president and CEO of the Predators, announced the team likely won’t practice during this pause in play. “Have them stay in our community, have them stay in our market,” Henry said. “While we’re doing that, truly have them self-isolate.” While the team is used to taking to the streets and being active in the community, this will be an odd time for them in Music City.
I’m happy to hear Henry acknowledge the Bridgestone Arena employees during this tough time. Infamous owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, brought attention to the workers at the American Airlines Center in Dallas who are not getting paid during this time. This has spread over the NHL, having many players and owners take matters into their own hands.
Many arena workers and their families rely on that income to live and could face problems during this tough time. In Nashville, Henry has agreed to pay them for several events and is looking to find a solution for the rest of the arena’s cancellations. I hope he soon finds a permanent solution if these games cannot be made up, and some other teams across the league are paving the way. The Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils are the teams with owners who have pledged to pay the remaining salaries, along with the Florida Panthers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky donating $100,000 of his own money.
This suspension of play was a good call. Trying to stop the curve of this virus has become a priority in the USA and for the well-being of us all. But we can still hope and look forward to a return in the NHL. Things will return to normal, and hopefully sometime this summer we will see a team skate around the ice with the Stanley Cup. Nashville has been trying to overcome the damage done by a tornado, and now, they face the issues caused by the coronavirus.
As we take on this halt in a key part of the season, be sure to look up many of your favorite highlights on YouTube and maybe an article or two from us here at THW. For the next few weeks, we will be doing as the Predators’ twitter bio reads, “Spread love, not germs.” The city will remain Nashville Strong and see this virus pandemic to its end. Then the Predators will hopefully take the ice for an exciting postseason. If this pause does anything, it will create excitement as we’ve never experienced before.