The NHL on Monday said that more than 250 players have shown up to various facilities since June 8 and that 15 have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s less than 6% of positive tests. For the general public, according to the CDC, the positive-test rate is around 9%.
The league does not release specifics, so it’s not known whether any of those 15 -- or the 11 others who tested positive outside the league’s official second phase toward resumption of play -- were Flyers players.
Understandable, given the sensitive nature of health privacy laws. It does, however, bring up a thorny question.
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As the NHL and other sports leagues continue to dive headfirst and happily into sports betting partnerships, a slippery creature lurks at the bottom of the pool. Call it the piranha of unintended consequences.
MGM, which was the NHL’s first sports betting partner, had the Flyers at 11-1 to win the Stanley Cup. William Hill had them at 12-1, while FanDuel, was around 9-1.
When the NHL joined with William Hill last spring, commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement that “this new partnership is yet another example of the innovative yet practical approach our league is taking with the emerging sports gaming industry.”
For years, American pro leagues spent millions of dollars and thousands of billable hours to fend off what it perceived as the stench of sports betting. When they realized resistance was futile, they welcomed the industry into the fold as if it was the prodigal son. What’s the over/under on the weight of the fatted calf?
The subject of injuries, or in the case of COVID-19, illness, in these alliances continues to be a dicey subject. The desire for player privacy is understandable; it just feels a little greasy for the league’s partners to continue to offer lines under such a cloud of uncertainty.
So, for now, hold all bets.
Upcoming birthdays in Flyersland:
June 30: Bob Froese (turns 62)
July 1: Dan McGillis (48)
July 4: Mike Knuble (48)
July 5: John LeClair (51), Chris Gratton (45)
July 6: Joe Watson (77)