Coronavirus: NHL plans to test players daily


The NHL plans to test all players daily for the coronavirus when the 2019-20 season is able to restart. 

"We will have a rigorous daily testing protocol where players are tested every evening and those results are obtained before they would leave their hotel rooms the next morning, so we'll know if we have a positive test and whether the player has to self-quarantine himself as a result of that positive test," deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

"It's expensive, but we think it's really a foundational element of what we're trying to accomplish."

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A single test costs approximately $125, according to the league, and commissioner Gary Bettman estimates that 25,000-35,000 tests are needed to get through the Stanley Cup Final.  

The league believes daily testing would help stop a possible spread because if a player was to test positive for the coronavirus, the infected player would quarantine in isolation. A single positive test would also not necessarily mean the league would stop play, according to Daly. 

"You need testing at a level sufficient to be confident that you're going to be on top of anything which might happen," NHL Players' Association executive director Don Fehr said. "If that turns out to be daily, and that's available, that's OK. That would be good. If it turns out that that's not quite what we need and we can get by with a little less, that's OK."

The NHL became the first North American sports league to propose a return to play plan after Bettman announced on Tuesday that the league will conclude the season by diving right into a 24-team playoff in two yet-to-be-decided hub cities to crown a Stanley Cup champion. 

In the unique playoff format, the top 12 teams from each conference - ranked by points percentage from when the season went on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 - will make the playoffs. 

The top four teams in each conference will compete in a round-robin tournament to determine final seedings. The teams seeded five through 12 will participate in a play-in tournament featuring a best-of-five series to determine who advances to face the top four seeds. The playoffs will continue with a second round, conference finals and a Stanley Cup final. 

All of this will take place when medical experts determine it is safe for games to resume. 

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