PHILADELPHIA — Citing the players’ health concerns, former Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas, now with the Washington Capitals , said the NHL should cancel the rest of its season.
The season was suspended March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak, and the league has said it is hopeful of returning. It is reviewing several scenarios, including a format that would have 24 of the 31 teams play in a tournament.
Gudas, who also played with the Philadelphia Flyers, urged the NHL to bag the season while at a golf tournament in his native Czech Republic.
In an interview aired on a Czech Republic sports channel (CT Sport) and translated into English by hockey blog Russian Machine Never Breaks, Gudas questioned the NHL’s mindset in trying to return.
“If we kept playing, our sport would be swimming against the current a bit,” he said. “Money is money; it’s what currently makes the world go around. It’s a bit sad they are willing to risk the health of so many players for money.”
Reportedly, the league could make as much as $500 million in TV revenue if it returns and holds its playoffs.
Earlier in the week, Gary Bettman, the NHL’s commissioner, said canceling the season was “not something I’m even contemplating.”
Around the world, hockey has had most of its leagues and tournaments canceled. The AHL and ECHL have bagged their seasons. Ditto the IIHF’s 2020 World Championship, and the pro leagues in Russia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.
The NHL is contemplating having games return in four cities, with players and their staffs quarantined in hotels.
Staying in a hotel room for the summer, Gudas was quoted as saying, was a “way to end up with depression” and a “step into one’s personal freedom.”
Traded to Washington last June in a deal that brought Matt Niskanen to the Flyers, Gudas said he was concerned about how quickly the coronavirus would spread among players if someone contracted it.
In conference calls with reporters since the season was paused, several of the Flyers’ players seemed eager to return to action.
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