Ice Hockey is one of the oldest sports in North America; it is also the most violent.  The National Hockey League, or NHL, is also the most secretive about player injuries, which occur with startling frequency in the cherished sport.

The NHL Keeps Injuries Under Wraps

The NHL Stanley Cup series is over for another year now.  The irony of a team from South Florida winning surely must be a hard pill to swallow for the traditionally strong hockey teams coming out of the Northeast part of the country.  But win it they did, and in strong fashion.  The Tampa Bay Lightning actually shut out the Dallas Stars in game 6, which was played up in Edmonton to hoist the coveted Stanley Cup for 2020.

But searching NHL.com for injury reports can be a frustrating waste of time and effort.  They simply do not appear to want to talk about it.  It leaves the reader to believe that the injury situation is so bad that the league goes to great efforts to hush up the fact that two players, carrying big sticks and sailing across the ice on their custom make skates at high speeds and then colliding with another player coming from the other direction is likely to result in one or both players to come away from the incident with some form of injury.

So, the NHL, like other major sports, has what is known as an “Injured Reserve List.”  Teams are limited to 23 active players on a squad, but the club rules state, “A player who has an injury that renders him physically unable to play for a minimum of seven days after that date of the injury can be placed on the Club’s Injured Reserve List.  Once a player is placed on the list, the Club may replace said player in its NHL roster with another player.”   The team gets to keep the injured player on the team while substituting another player onto their 23-man roster while the injured player recovers.

Injury Reports Change Due To COVID-19

2020 saw changes come to the NHL because of COVID-19.  Most notably, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said heading into Phase 4 when the league was resuming games that “in an effort to protect the players, the NHL will not disclose injuries in Phase 4,” and added, “Medical privacy is important in this process.”  This seems odd since, normally, the teams in the NHL share injury related information with the other teams, but there is no rule requiring that.

However, the powers that be at NHL have decided to actually prohibit the sharing of such information in order to “eliminate speculation between a hockey related injury and positive COVID-19 test results.  The NHL, instead, will release the overall number of players who test positive for COVID-19 over the course of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but will not disclose the names of those infected.”

Just which players remain sick or injured at the end of the season, who knows?  We will all just wait and see who shows up on the active rosters next year.  In the meantime we are all still trying to deal with the COVID-19 crisis as best we can and the idea that an organization as large and widely spread across the nation has chosen to keep their health-related information a secret is a scary proposition at best.

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