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Weekend Thoughts

from Eliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,

When it comes to the vote, I think it’s pure hypocrisy to judge anyone else any differently than I judge myself. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, certain NHL locations are out of control and there’s risk. We can argue about mortality rates for healthy athletes, sure, but we also have very little idea of what this disease does long-term to the human body.

A few weeks ago, I discussed with my wife about going back to work. We looked at the risks and agreed that when the time comes to go back into the office, I’m going back into the office. Some people can financially afford to say, “Don’t need this.” (I’m jealous, lol.) Some will say, “My job is simply not important enough to me.” But for many, many others, that route is not practical. Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s benefits. Maybe it’s self-worth. Maybe it’s the fact that, as an athlete, your career window is so much smaller than most. All good reasons, and there are more. I decided a while ago that I was not going to criticize anyone – co-worker, athlete, coach, executive, official, blue-collar worker, white-collar worker – who said no. That’s their business, no one else’s.

There’ve been some raucous player calls. I’m told Montreal’s was one, and Carey Price gave a window into that with local reporters on Thursday. The time of year does not appeal to the players, who save the summer for recovery, training, golfing, weddings and timing the birth of children. Who’s going to be thrilled with flying into Florida or Texas? Who wants to take a triple connection to come back from Europe? Are there more positive tests than we know? These are all legit questions. But I don’t think it’s in any way wrong to say, “What are the implications if I say no?” The business is already taking a massive hit and each player’s salary is linked to it. That’s why I think the vote passes, then we see who opts out.

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d ca's avatar

#7…..
We can argue about mortality rates for healthy athletes, sure, but we also have very little idea of what this disease does long-term to the human body.

There is actually more to worry about (at least here in the US). The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act. One of the provisions of this law is to not let health insurers drop or deny individuals because of pre-existing conditions. If this law is struck down. Survivors and those that tested positive would have their insurance invalidated, denied future claims that were based upon having COVID, or be charged significantly higher premiums.

Not all these players are multi-millionaires that can afford to pay as Randy Moss put it, “straight cash homie” for health care. So this is a concern that won’t be settled until after Nov based on current known timing. This throws another unknown into the equation for these players.

And yes, there seem to be significant long-term health consequences even to people that “beat” COVID.

“We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the beginning,” said Dr Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.

Dr. Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, believes there will be a huge healthcare expenditure and burden for individuals who have survived COVID-19.

While much of the focus has been on the minority of patients who experience severe disease, doctors increasingly are looking to the needs of patients who were not sick enough to require hospitalization, but are still suffering months after first becoming infected.

Studies are just getting underway to understand the long-term effects of infection, Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in a telephone briefing on Thursday.

For the players long-term effects is not an insignificant risk. Not being able to return to “normal” could mean millions in career earnings lost.

I could envision a scenario that some teams could be tanking these play-in games and it will have nothing to do with a draft pick. Simply those players want to be done with the season and its risks as quickly as possible as their heart is not in it.

I too think the opt out rate is going to affect these playoffs.

Posted by d ca on 06/27/20 at 09:57 PM ET

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Good post d_ca

I’m trying to enjoy the possibility of any active NHL news;
any possible, rational returns to more normal conditions.

But it’s fair to acknowledge - whatever one’s politics -
the even-worse-old-days of health care just ten years ago
and the utterly inhumane scandal that we allowed insurers to
drop patients or make insurance coverage impossible at the worst times
simply due to normal and common “pre-existing conditions”.
How many people were focused on pouring over lifetimes of records to look for
any technical basis for rescissions and refusing coverage or care based on
something they filled out on a previous form. The lifetime caps in coverage.
It’s worth remembering that all of the popular provisions of the ACA that pretty much everyone in politics now acts like they always supported were very expensive to require private insurers to cover and had to be passed by a bare majority in Congress. It’s worth remembering just how willing our elected officials were to allow the most vulnerable Americans of all ages to be cruelly, summarily died coverage and care in their times of greatest need. And just how much money poured into campaign contributions from an insurance industry who liked that way of doing business. All while members of Congress enjoyed great publicly funded health coverage themselves.

I’ve made it a point to try and control all variables I can and eat and exercise well to remain in great shape. But I also have asthma. And even if it’s normally well under control, toxins and pollutants, from cigarette smoke to pollution from vehicles can trigger bad reactions. When your lungs and ability to breath are at stake, it’s pretty humbling. That’s a classic preexisting condition I had no control over developing and can do my best to manage and treat. Covid-19 puts me right there with elderly, frail people, sick kids, people with other severe chronic health conditions, whatever the cause.

The hope had been we could all give our health care systems the time and resources to avoid becoming totally overwhelmed. And give medical specialists the time to figure out techniques of curative and not just supportive care for people who get seriously ill. While we eventually develop some effective vaccines. But none of that means that it is or is going to be “ok” to get infected with this virus, now or anytime soon. Even for people who survive or who manage to avoid the worst symptoms, we truly don’t know the long-term damage the virus can cause and long-term impacts on one’s health. I’d like to hope that for many it can be no worse than getting through a bad case of the flu and developing some antibodies. Previous generations developed diseases we now think of as almost quaint - but that sometimes left people with bad hearts, lungs, legs, etc. for life.

The smartest thing by far is to try and avoid getting this disease in every reasonable way one possibly can. Unfortunately we are not - as a society, as a huge, diverse country with in many ways highly federalized or localized decisionmaking and a strong tradition of questioning government authority - behaving as if avoiding the spread of this disease is much of a priority. So while I try to rejoin public life and work to the extent it’s reasonably safe, I know I will continue to be much more likely to be exposed to people who are infected. Any gap in my ability to avoid infection and I could be one of those many people now re-filling hospital ICUs to capacity. There seems to be this idea that if most people are going to get infected at some point we might as well return to normal life and get it over with. But there is a huge difference in becoming infected before and after doctors know how to effectively treat serious cases. There is a huge difference in risking exposure when most people have had a chance to become vaccinated. We all know how exhausted and overworked doctors and nurses can be on a normal shift. There’s a big difference trying to get effect is care when every OCU is overwhelmed.

There is a lot of legitimate anger and blame to go around from various countries to NGOs to levels of our own government, to public health experts and elected officials here and beyond. And I honestly don’t care what’s PC or which politicians or other bodies one political team wants to focus on versus another. The bottom line is that as a country we (among many others)  got handed a horrible long-term pandemic and aren’t handling it effectively. From every level of government down to people who simply can’t be bothered to wear masks or distance when they’re hanging out because it’s an inconvenient way to party. This pandemic and its affects are going to be with us for a long time.

Posted by lefty.30 on 06/27/20 at 11:34 PM ET

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lefty you are correct, “This pandemic and its affects are going to be with us for a long time.”  People will have to take precautions as they go about their regular days both at work and leisure. There may never be a vaccine. Society must continue, people cannot stay home indefinitely. Thousands of people went to the streets to protest, social distancing was abandoned and now there is a huge spike in covid 19. If people want to go out whether to the street to protest or a bar to drink and socialize, especially younger people who feel they probably won’t get too sick, they will go out. The disease will spread and some people will die, some people will get sick and some people will hardly feel the effects of the virus. That is the world we now live in. I wear a mask whenever in public, I use hand sanitizer and at the drive thru bank I use gloves. I always keep my distance from people. Unfortunately this will not change anytime soon.

Since this is a hockey site I will make a hockey comment. If they ever allow fans at a game, I cannot say whether I would attend. I really don’t want someone sitting in a row behind me spewing their germs on me. Covid 19 could be devastating for hockey teams and leagues at every level.

Posted by Puckbubba on 06/28/20 at 01:45 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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