The NHL has a decision to make. Quite frankly, it doesn’t feel like much of a choice at all.
The league will announce today its immediate plans in light of the coronavirus outbreak. After the NBA suspended its season Wednesday night, it’s hard to imagine the NHL not following suit. Doctors, health organizations and municipalities are imploring folks all over the world to avoid congregating in mass groups.
The news about Rudy Gobert and Fred Hoiberg was stunning. The NHL must avoid the same risks.
There are two elevators in the southeast part of the Wells Fargo Center. Every night, immediately after a Flyers game, they are brimming with activity. Michael, the burly but affable security supervisor, leaves no doubt who is in charge for those first trips down from the balcony level.
One car will take Flyers front-office staff and other league officials immediately down to the ground floor. It’s an express. No stops. Once it lands, passengers will either get in their cars and go home or visit the locker-room areas and mill about. This is the car Bobby Clarke, Chuck Fletcher and inactive players take.
The other car, the freight elevator, will then shepherd the media, also express, down to the event floor. There, they will gather postgame reaction from players and coaches. There might be 60 people in this car, but it is quiet as reporters work their phones tweeting about, for instance, how Tuukka Rask just stole a win for the Bruins.
Then the real work begins.
Hundreds of workers take over the elevators. They carry empty food trays or lug garbage bins spilling over with that night’s excess. You see, when the Flyers game is over, many of these people are just beginning their shifts.
They file into the elevators methodically and with purpose, like ants in a colony. They make every stop from the top of the building down to the event floor. Two get off; three get on. Buzz, buzz, buzz.
It is an amazing flurry of activity, and the interaction among them Is the same as if they were accountants in a Center City high rise. How are the kids? What time do you get done? Are you working tomorrow?
We are living in a strange and uncertain time. While it’s understandable, and even OK, to wonder what will become of this NHL season — whether the terrific turnaround made by Alain Vigneault and his coaches will go for naught, or if this year’s Flyers team could have made a run like last year’s St. Louis Blues — think also of the ancillary folks who push the trash bins at the arenas and clean up our frivolity in time for the next event.
Often, they don’t even know if the Flyers won or lost. They have a bigger picture to focus on.
The Inquirer last week decided to make all of its content related to the coronavirus free, including our live blog, which is the best source for information.