The Flyers didn't have to look far if they needed a reminder of just how convoluted their season could be in the times of COVID-19.
The basketball team they share an arena with played a game Saturday afternoon having only seven available players. The hockey team they're set to play Wednesday had to cancel practice Saturday morning.
"It's the world we live in right now to be able to play and get our season going, so we realize there are some different things that make things unique and present some different challenges," James van Riemsdyk said Saturday in a video interview. "You've just got to be able to roll with it and be professional and do your job and go from there."
The Sixers-Nuggets game at the Wells Fargo Center was up in the air until around noon ET because of health and safety protocols following guard Seth Curry's positive COVID-19 test Thursday. The Penguins, who are scheduled to visit Philadelphia for the regular-season opener Wednesday, decided to call off practice "out of an abundance of caution due to potential exposure of COVID-19," the team said in a statement, via the Tribune-Review.
The Flyers fully understand the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and the importance of following all the safety protocols. They went through the whole gamut with the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament over the summer in Toronto, the league's Eastern Conference bubble. To open the 2020-21 season, there is no bubble, so precautions are even more imperative to the safety of not only players and staff, but also their families.
"The NHL and the NHLPA have a PowerPoint presentation that we watched prior to going into the bubble in Toronto and we’ll be able to show it again this year just as a reminder," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said on Dec. 23. "It’s always good for everybody to understand what the protocols are and what the rules are; we’ll remind people. I’m sure there will be a little bit of a transition and we’ll certainly make sure they’re aware of all the rules and regulations. The players understand, they get it. They understand how important it is to stay out of harm’s way and to stay healthy so we can complete the season. Obviously we’ll work closely with them to make sure that everyone has all the information they need."
The Flyers had practice Saturday at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone and wrap up 2021 training camp with an intrasquad game Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center. They'll be aware of the Penguins' situation, which could impact the status of the regular-season opener. As of right now, there are no changes. If Pittsburgh's scrimmage Sunday remains on as scheduled, that will be a good sign.
The game 🏒 before the game 🏈
Want to fill more of your day with Pittsburgh sports? We will post the YouTube link for our intra-squad scrimmage around 6:00 PM. pic.twitter.com/L8TpQtVau8
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 10, 2021
The NHL was forced to postpone the start of the Stars' season after the club had six players and two staff members test positive for COVID-19.
"You can’t just bury your head in the sand, you have to realize there are things going on in the world, things going on obviously in our league in regards to some of this stuff," van Riemsdyk, the Flyers' NHLPA representative, said. "First and foremost, with all of these protocols, we're just trying to maintain the safety of everyone and their families and that sort of stuff, doing what we can as far as wearing masks around the rink and trying to maintain distance from people as best we can and do stuff like that. Obviously when you see these things happen, you just want to hope that everyone and their families are staying safe. With that being said, we also have a job to do, as well, so trying to balance both of those things is a key part for the season."
Below are two sections from the league's protocol regarding a positive test and close-contact cases.
Ivan Provorov on Saturday was asked if he could give a glimpse into a player's day with the COVID-19 protocols.
"We get up, we answer a few questions on the app, how we're feeling," he said in a video interview. "We check our temperature at home, then we come to the rink, we check our temperatures here, do our COVID test daily and start practicing. After we do our COVID test in the morning, we get the results usually by the end of the day, so we all know if we're negative or positive if some people are."
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