As more and more players get added to the NHL's COVID-Related Absences List and teams have their season halted for days at a time, the NHL is trying to power through it all. In an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus, four changes have been to in-arena protocols, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
The first major decision removing the glass behind team benches, which will apparently allow for air flow in an area tightly packed with human bodies for the longest period of time in games. Unlike the NBA, for example, the bench set up has not changed in the face of the global pandemic.
In an additional change to bench-area protocol, the league is asking teams to bring air cleaners for behind the benches "in order to improve indoor air quality and mitigate airborne viral transmission. Players and coaches will also be barred from arriving to games prior to one hour and 45 minutes before the puck drops, and all meetings now have to be conducted virtually, even if they're game day meetings.
The exception for the arrival floor is in the case of injury treatment -- which is interesting given how notable NHL teams are for being vague in their injury reports.
Finally, teams will be asked to create and use additional locker room space for themselves and opponents. While social distancing can't happen on the bench or on the ice, the goal is to have six feet of space between players in the locker room. Teams have a deadline of one week to tell the league how they plan to accomplish this.
The NHL has seen quite an uptick in players added to its COVID-19 list recently, with the Minnesota Wild adding five players and postponing four games on Tuesday alone. Additionally, Colorado added one player, New Jersey added four players and Buffalo added two players Tuesday. The Devils and Sabres each had games postponed through Saturday and Monday, respectively.