Flames GM cau­tiously op­ti­mistic about NHL re­turn

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - KRISTEN AN­DER­SON kan­der­son@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/kdotander­son

Al­berta’s re­cently un­veiled re­open­ing strat­egy, cou­pled with the gain­ing steam of Na­tional Hockey League games re­sum­ing in hub cities, has many ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing a re­turn to nor­malcy.

How­ever, Brad Tre­liv­ing’s ex­cite­ment is tem­pered.

The Cal­gary Flames gen­eral man­ager said that, while the for­ward mo­tion is good news, they’re still at the mercy of health au­thor­i­ties to en­sure the safety and health of all par­ties in­volved.

“This is a grad­ual ap­proach and we’re not out of the woods,” Tre­liv­ing said on Fri­day dur­ing his weekly me­dia con­fer­ence call. “We all have to be cau­tious of how we op­er­ate. But I just take it as there are signs that we are mov­ing for­ward.

“It’s a pos­i­tive. I haven’t bro­ken it down, to be hon­est with you, of how it’s all go­ing to work. But cer­tainly the big­gest point for me is, how does that re­late to us with groups (of peo­ple)? I’m not talk­ing about fans in the build­ing right now.

"But or­ga­niz­ing a train­ing camp with 30-some-odd peo­ple, how does that work?”

Pro­vin­cial guide­lines from chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health Dr. Deena Hen­shaw have banned gath­er­ings of more than 15 peo­ple through Aug. 31, while phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing mea­sures — en­sur­ing peo­ple stay two me­tres apart — are still in place to con­tinue Al­berta’s fight to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The province’s phased re­open­ing, which was an­nounced by Premier Ja­son Ken­ney on Thurs­day, would see the re­lax­ing of re­stric­tions on some pub­lic gath­er­ings dur­ing Stage 2.

When asked about Ed­mon­ton’s po­ten­tial of par­tially host­ing the restart of the NHL, Ken­ney said Al­berta would con­sider a plan put forth by the NHL “that fol­lows our health guide­lines with ap­pro­pri­ate pro­tec­tive equip­ment and with no­body in the stands.”

While Ken­ney has talked with NHL com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman in re­cent weeks, he added the Al­berta gov­ern­ment hasn’t re­ceived any po­ten­tial plans yet.

Tre­liv­ing in­di­cated their group has plans in place, out­lin­ing how a train­ing camp would look in a re­stricted for­mat — three groups of 10 play­ers, for ex­am­ple, or four groups of eight.

He added that the Flames are cog­nizant of po­ten­tial lim­i­ta­tions if they’re al­lowed to re­open their own fa­cil­ity to give play­ers ac­cess to the ice and dress­ing rooms.

“Gen­er­ally speak­ing, it’s a pos­i­tive ver­sus if the mes­sage was, ‘We’re on lock­down here for a few more months,’ ” Tre­liv­ing said. “But we’re turn­ing a little bit back to nor­mal here.”

Prior to Tre­liv­ing ’s hir­ing as GM in the spring of 2014, the Flames drew crit­i­cism in 2009 when some play­ers and their fam­i­lies re­ceived the H1N1 flu vac­cine at a spe­cial clinic with the help of Al­berta Health Ser­vices.

He in­di­cated pref­er­en­tial treat­ment like that wouldn’t be the case this time around when it comes to pub­lic health and safety.

“We’re never go­ing to be in a po­si­tion where we cir­cum­vent or get ahead of the line,” Tre­liv­ing said. “I wasn’t here for the flu (H1N1) shot sit­u­a­tion, but I’ve heard plenty about it and cer­tainly we don’t want a re­peat of that.”

Tre­liv­ing as­sured their po­ten­tial plans would sat­isfy AHS and pro­vin­cial guide­lines, but there is no rush to put any­thing into mo­tion yet.

They have to fol­low the pro­ce­dures just like ev­ery­one else, he said.

“You have to pump the brakes a little bit here,” Tre­liv­ing said. “They’re go­ing to let us know. The key to all of this stuff is go­ing to be test­ing and I think we have to be care­ful — there are peo­ple that need test­ing, who are way more im­por­tant than we are … when you start talk­ing about if and when that time comes when we can re-en­gage, that’s go­ing to come when the greater com­mu­nity is al­lowed to gather to a cer­tain ex­tent.”

The very na­ture of hockey at any level in­volves con­tact, in­ci­den­tal or in­ten­tional. There are many vari­ables and un­con­trol­lable as­pects of the game from a health and safety per­spec­tive mak­ing phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble.

Test­ing to en­sure play­ers do not have the coro­n­avirus will play a big role in a re­turn to the ice, Tre­liv­ing be­lieves.

“In this new nor­mal that we’ve been liv­ing the last six weeks, it seems re­ally odd that we’re go­ing to get to a point where hockey games will be hap­pen­ing and peo­ple will be col­lid­ing,” Tre­liv­ing said. “But we’ll get there, when­ever we get there.”

Matthew Tkachuk

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.