Coronavirus Forces NHL’s NY Islanders To Take Unprecedented Step

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The Islanders will be among the first teams in North American pro sports leagues to close locker room access to the media in wake of coronavirus concerns, a source told The Post.

Teams that choose to close their locker rooms will hold media availability in formal press conference areas.

“Due to the team’s efforts to keep the dressing room areas as clean as possible, select players will be made available outside of the Islanders locker room [where TV does walk off interviews],” an Islanders spokesman said in a statement. “Barry Trotz’s availability will be conducted in the usual press conference location.”

The Islanders are playing an afternoon game at the Coliseum against the Hurricanes, while the Devils will face the Rangers on Saturday night at the Garden. It is unclear whether the Rangers and Devils will also close off their locker rooms.

Islanders Adhering To CDC Advice?

An ESPN report on Saturday said the league, following a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had mandated that teams close locker room. An NHL source, however, said that was not the case.

“Teams might make individual calls based on their own situations. But there is no league-wide mandate for today [or] tonight,” the source said. ”Myriad concepts being discussed in all areas. Nothing finalized. “

The NHL previously had banned international travel for league-office employees. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN earlier this week that the NHL was “starting to explore contingency plans” should the coronavirus become a more significant health threat in North America ahead of the 2019-20 playoffs.

Daly didn’t rule out the potential for postponing or canceling games, or playing games in empty arenas without fans.

“I think it’s very unlikely — knock on wood, I’m hopeful — that we would progress to a stage where we have to consider something that dramatic,” Daly told ESPN. “But certainly everything is possible, and we have to look at all possible contingencies. If it gets to that point, we will be ready.”


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