The NHL has assured its coaches that when hockey returns this summer, there will be no restrictions prohibiting them from doing their jobs, nor will any coaches of a certain age or another at-risk demographic be prevented from being behind the bench, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN on Thursday.
The league and NHL Players' Association are still sorting out protocols for Phase 3 (training camps, which will begin July 10) and Phase 4 (the 24-team postseason). However, the NHL Coaches' Association and Daly have been in regular communication.
Though the NHL isn't expected to mandate any restrictions, if a coach doesn't feel comfortable being part of the team environment in the bubble for health or personal reasons, the league has said it will help accommodate that coach and it will not affect his job standing.
Exact health and safety protocols for coaches and their interactions with players are still being discussed, though sources suggest it's possible coaches will wear a mask behind the bench.
The NBA sent its 113-page health and safety protocols to teams on Tuesday, which includes a lengthy process on identifying and "protecting" team employees designated as higher risk for complications to COVID-19. The language concerned the National Basketball Coaches Association.
"The health and safety of all NBA coaches is our main concern," the NBCA told ESPN in a statement. "However, we are also concerned with a coach's opportunity to work and to not have their ability to secure future jobs be severely jeopardized. ... Absent a significant threat, we believe a coach should be able to understand and assume their individual risks, waive liability, and coach in Orlando."
It appears that won't be an issue for the NHL. The NHL has narrowed its list down to 10 potential hub cities and is expected to make an announcement next week on which two it has chosen. Each team is going to be limited to a 50-person traveling party.
The NHL has said that once games resume, it will be testing players and staff daily for the coronavirus.