Today the National Women’s Hockey League announced their Season 6 timeline. Back in April, the league founded a COVID-19 Safety Committee, so that they could set forth a plan for a safe and strategic return to play. The NWHL tapped Infectious Disease and Sport Health officials to help lead these efforts.
On the Safety Committee are Doctors Andrew Feldman, MD and Guillen Gonzalez-Lomes, MD from the NYU Langone Health, an official partner of the NWHL, league executives and representatives of the NWHL Players Association. The priority for the committee is formulating a plan that protects the well being of all the participants and fans.
“The Safety Committee has and will continue to prioritize NWHL player, staff, fan, and media safety above all else while adapting to the ever-changing COVID-19 situation. We are eager to meet the challenge ahead and do our utmost to safely return the athletes to the sport they love.”
– Dr. Gonzalez-Lomas, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Health expert at NYU Langone Health
With today’s announcement, the committee laid the foundation for what they will look to accomplish, and their timeline of events for the remainder of 2020 heading into 2021.
- The NWHL will look to start optional on-ice practices and off-ice training, and have it available for all teams and players beginning the week of September 21st.
- Teams will be looking to continue their focus on enhanced opportunities for player development starting in September as well.
- Then beginning on the week of October 19th, the NWHL will look to begin formal practices.
- Throughout this process the NWHL teams will be strictly adhering to the protocols established by infectious disease experts, the NWHL medical team, and community experts in each market.
- In January of 2021 the NWHL will look to begin Season 6.
- Each team will play a full season of twenty (20) games.
- The Isobel Cup Playoffs is expected to be completed by the end of March.
- The NWHL will look to hold the 2021 All Star Game after the Isobel Cup has been awarded.
“We are undoubtedly eager to get back on the ice and can’t wait for the season to start. However, we also recognize the challenges everyone faces by the global health crisis, and we want to ensure that not only are we protected but our fans, media, coaches, support staff, and arena personnel are protected as well. The league has done an awesome job at including us in these discussions. While a slight delay to the start of the season is tough, I feel strongly that everyone’s safety and health will continue to be at the forefront of all decisions. We will continue to practice and train in accordance with state, provincial, and league guidelines. When the time comes, we will be ready to battle for the Isobel Cup in Season 6 and to play for the best fans in the world.”
– Allie Thunstrom, Minnesota Whitecaps
One of the most interesting tidbit to come out of this is that the NWHL still plans to have a full 20 game regular season with the Isobel Cup awarded at the end of March. Looking at the calendar we could potentially see the NWHL kick start their season on Friday, January 1st, and have games every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday going to the end of February, and have the Isobel Cup Playoffs begin potentially on Friday, March 5th to achieve the goal of having the Isobel Cup awarded by the end of the month.
We’re about a month and a half away from Phase One beginning for the NWHL, and I’m for one am very excited for the return of the NWHL.
TXHT will continue to provide NWHL coverage as more signings and news are announced.