It figures. The first full day we know with certainty that the fate of the 2019-2020 season of the National Hockey League is in jeopardy. Opinionators will opine, commentators will comment, analysts will analyze. None of them know how all this ends, least of all some obscure scribbler who occupies these spaces.
The NHL, in concert with other leagues and associations, decided yesterday to suspend play in its regular season for an indeterminate amount of time as a result of the Coronavirus crisis that has swept across the globe. It would be cliché to say that suspending play in a sports league is a trivial thing in the larger picture of things, and we would agree to a point. But sports gives a lot of people a release, an escape from the stress and anxiety that such crises often create. And now, even that is put in isolation as we try to cope with and rebound from this crisis.
We do not have any particularly profound things to recommend that you have not heard before. Be responsible. Practice good personal hygiene habits, and practice social distancing where appropriate. Be vigilant. Respect the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on steps to take to prevent illness and other frequently asked questions and answers.
Be a good neighbor. Do you have an elderly friend or neighbor? A parent or older relative? If recommendations for social distancing make it hard to look in on them directly, watch out for them, give them a call, let them know you’re thinking of them and are mindful of their needs.
Think of others in need. A lot of folks are being and are going to be hit hard as this situation unfolds, especially in service and hospitality industries. Restaurants are struggling to deal with the situation; hotels are stepping up their efforts to ensure safety and cleanliness; those who keep our homes and offices clean and orderly have to work that much harder; burdens that will fall heavily on staff of limited economic means. If you have the means to leave a little extra for good service or at least express your appreciation for the effort, we are all better off for it.
Be respectful. These are tense times in the public square, even without the added anxiety brought on by the Coronavirus situation. Viruses are without conscience or compassion. They don’t care about your politics, your religion, your race, or your station in life. Realize that we are all in this together and put aside the disagreements to care for one another and respect each other’s needs.
As for what we do here for the time being? Like a lot of folks who are passionate about hockey and write about it, we are at something of a loss as to how to move forward. The cousins and I will probably comb through the archives and look back on where we were and what we were doing in happier times. You’ll probably see quite a few “The Best of…” pieces. Cheerless will undoubtedly come up with something typically bizarre and head-scratching.
This is a situation we, as hockey fans, have encountered before, and on the other hand have not. Hockey has gone dark in-season before – 1994-1995, 2004-2005, 2012-2013. But we could see it coming, the issues were more clearly defined, and we knew what a solution might look like. On the other hand, we did not get as much warning about this (who knew on Tuesday that the league would be announcing on Thursday it would suspend its schedule?). The solution, for lack of a better term, will not be found within the sport’s confines. Even those with whom a solution might reside – scientists, policy makers – seem uncertain as to what a solution might look like or when it might occur.
So for now, we sit, we wait. Be good, be safe.