Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk is not in favor of the reported “hub cities” proposal. According to The Athletic’s Michael Russo, in a conference call with reporters on Thursday, the 34-year-old said players aren’t interested in leaving their families for what could potentially be several months.
“Guys with kids at home aren’t interested in shackling up somewhere for four months and being away from them,” the veteran netminder said. “I know myself personally, I’m not interested in packing up and going away for that length of time away from my family. I can’t imagine that anybody else would, and I think it sounds like the NHL is sensitive to that and understands that, so we’re just going to have to wait and see how everything unfolds here.”
The Regina, Sask., native is the Wild’s National Hockey League Players’ Association team representative and has been on every call with the union’s executive director Don Fehr. He said it’s hard to imagine overcoming all the obstacles present to resume the 2019-20 season.
“Everybody wants to come back and play, we wanted that from the second it got stopped,” Dubnyk told reporters. “It’s just hard to wrap your head around different scenarios just because there’s so much in the air still right now. So, it’s good to have a lot of good conversations and continue the dialogue and continue the communication with everybody so all the players could understand what’s on the table, what are the different options as they go.
“But really that’s not going to present itself clearly. Different options and different possibilities are just going to present themselves week-to-week. It’s not like you can just sit down right in this moment and pick one single scenario and say, ‘Yup, this is going to work, this is what we’re going to do’ as local governments lift all restrictions. There’s just so much uncertainty right now on timing and what’s going to be allowed and when. So all you can do is continue to talk about it and be as prepared as you can.”
According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, 11 to 14 NHL teams have submitted bids to be selected as a “hub city” as the league looks to resume the season in four locations. While this recourse is the frontrunner option to resume games, according to LeBrun, there’s no guarantee it happens due to the rising concerns from players.
The league has also formed a Return to Play committee that includes Connor McDavid, John Tavares, Ron Hainsey, James van Riemsdyk and Mark Scheifele. Tavares told LeBrun that conversations regarding the amount of time needed to finish the season have occurred, focusing on teams making deep playoff runs.
“I know personally, my situation, that would be very difficult to go through that amount of time without seeing your family, especially a newborn son and whatnot,” Tavares said back on April 27. “I think the league has been very receptive, there are still hurdles to cross before we get into more details about that.”
Dubnyk is not the only player to come forward, he joins Montreal Canadiens forward Phillip Danault who has raised the concern about leaving his family for a long period of time.
“It really makes no sense, in my head, to distance myself for two months from my kid,” Danault told reporters on April 28. “I imagine it makes even less sense for those who would go far in the playoffs, who are on playoff teams right now. If a team goes to the Stanley Cup Final, it could be three to four months.
“It’s inhumane to do that as far as I’m concerned. But the league has to make a decision and I imagine the players will have to vote on it, and I’m not sure they’ll be in favor of being away from family for two-to-three months.”
“Some players could be away from their families for 3-4 months and I think that’s way too much. I’m not the only one thinking like that, I’m sure.”–Phil Danault.
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) April 28, 2020
If the season resumes, Danault suggested going right to the playoffs. Montreal was 10 points back of the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets for the Eastern Conference wild-card spots. However, if the league expanded the playoffs to 24 teams, the Canadiens would be in.
“Once we get back, games leftover for teams not in the playoffs is not too motivating,” Danault said. “I’d rather concentrate on next season. I understand there’s teams in the playoffs, teams that made big moves and traded first-round picks; I understand their desire to finish the season.
“But I find there are things that are maybe more important in the world at this instant than hockey games.”