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Team Canada suspends camp, Northeastern postpones winter sports to Dec 18

November 24, 2020, 11:38 AM ET [52 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Update as of 11:30 on 11/24: If you needed further evidence as to how far-reaching the impact of the pandemic is: "“Hockey Canada confirmed earlier today that two players at Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Selection Camp have tested positive for COVID-19, and have been placed in quarantine at the team hotel in Red Deer. Upon learning of the positive test this morning, the decision was made to postpone the Red-White game scheduled for this morning at the Westerner Park Centrium, and to suspend all camp activities for today."

This occurring now certainly has to put the completion of camp in doubt. In addition, and more important, how does this impact the entire WJC? If all are healthy when entering the "bubble," maybe the IIHF and respective teams can pull off the tournament. But the evidence of cases in the selection camp and across the globe has to at a minimum raise eyebrows and concerns across the platform.

From the Rangers perspective, broadly, any thought of possibly sending Alexis Lafreniere should end right now. Not sending him was the right choice, but that opinion has been cemented by the positive cases. In addition, this likely makes Matthew Robertson's chances of making the team more remote, as he may not get another chance to augment his slim case. But Dylan Garand and Braden Schneider should already have locked up their spots.



Colleges due to the pandemic are once again either canceling or postponing the start of winter sports. The impact of doing so is wide-reaching. As we saw last year, some schools are no longer playing certain sports, resulting in the lack of scholarships for those athletes to attend college. For those sports that are delayed, but especially canceled, the material impact is the lack of development time and capabilities for those athletes. 

One recent example of a postponing was today by Northeastern, who have pushed back the start of winter sports until December 18. While we all hope that date will be when action resumes, as we have seen from what was to the kickoff of college basketball on November 24, the line of the best laid plans of man and men applies. Several schools have had to cancel games due to COVID-19 cases, and as the pandemic numbers continue to rise, while the season might not yet be at risk, games certainly will be off the docket.



Riley Hughes, selected in the seventh round of the 2018 draft by the Rangers, is set to enter his sophomore season for the Huskies. In year one, he tallied a goal and three assists in 34 games, as he acclimated to the higher level competition. Hughes is a prime example of a player who hopes and needs to use the college level of play to aid in his development as he tries to earn a contract. Now take this example and extrapolate across the various levels of juniors, high school and college hockey, same with the AHL (February start date targeted), ECHL (suspension of play by ECHL North Division teams), etc. and you can easily protect and see just how wide-ranging the impact of the lack of play is in terms of skills building and development.

While we have a tendency to focus on professional sports, the larger impact of the pandemic may be at the gross roots level. Hopefully, players, where able, are training on their own or zooming with their coaches. But the lack of 1-1 teaching and team based activity could have a lasting effect on players. Maybe not at the elite level but for those athletes looking for scholarships or to improve their play to earn college scholarships, they too are substantially impacted by the pandemic. Riley Hughes is just the most recent from the Rangers to have his season cut short, which also helped drive Morgan Barron's decision to turn pro. 

Hopefully, we will have a vaccine soon and life will return to an even larger sense of normal. Until then, cancellations like Northeastern will be the norm not the exception with the impact wide reaching, as noted above. If the second wave proves to be broader than we initially thought or the vaccine is not as available as hoped, you wonder if players on the fringe will try and go pro earlier or attempt to play in Europe, presuming roster space is open.


 
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