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WEB EXCLUSIVE Hockey is back, baby! While the coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to traveling, getting together with friends, parties and the like, there’s at least one thing we can still look forward to and that’s sports. Even if you’re not the biggest sports fan, we’ve found that catching a game or two on TV brings some sense of normalcy back to our day-to-day.
This week, NHL season starts up again, with the Carolina Hurricanes playing their first game against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 14. While there’s still no in-person attendance allowed, you can still catch the game from the comfort of your living room on Fox Sports Carolinas. (And, hopefully, fans will be able to return to PNC Arena soon.)
The Canes started training camp on Jan. 3 with 38 players—34 skaters and four goaltenders—including returning players Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Dougie Hamilton and Andrei Svechnikov. New to the team this year is former New York Rangers right-winger Jesper Fast, who has played a total of 422 career games and scored 29 points in 69 games last season.
Each NHL team will play a 56-game season, with the season officially kicking off on Jan. 13. According to CBS Sports, every team will only play divisional games this season in an effort to limit travel and potential COVID-19 exposure. As far as the playoffs are concerned, the top four teams in each division will qualify and four teams will advance to the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
While the NHL has done away with the “bubble” they established last year due to COVID, there are still many health and safety precautions in place. Each player will get their own hotel room during road trips; all coaches will be required to wear face masks on the bench; and teams must disclose when players have tested positive for COVID-19 and follow local isolation guidelines until they’re cleared by both a cardiologist and team physician to play again.
The Hurricanes puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 14. Let’s go Canes!
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