Maple Leafs’ Mitchell Marner raises concern about NHL returning: ‘What if someone gets sick and dies?’

While playing “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” this week, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner relayed the same fears everyone is having regarding the return of sports — and, to be frank, normal life. 

“Well, dude, like, just imagine it,” he said on his Twitch stream. “What my thought on this is, ‘OK, like, I’m all down for starting everything back up. Let’s rock.’ But what if someone gets sick and dies? What happens? It’s awful to think about, but still.”

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The NHL paused its 2019-20 season on March 12 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While everyone, including Marner, is itching to see sports return, there’s still the issue of keeping players, staff, production crews and others healthy. While most NHL players are generally healthy individuals, some, as Marner noted, have underlying health concerns, such as his former London Knights (OHL) teammate and current Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi, who is a Type 1 diabetic. 

“Like, if he gets it,” Marner said. “He’s in one, like bad.”

Testing will be a critical component of the NHL returning. During a May 1 appearance on Edmonton radio CHED, deputy commissioner Bill Daly stressed the importance of keeping players safe while not putting a strain on local communities.

“We’re going to need to have access to testing, and we’re going to make it a point that we’re not accessing testing, even in a private way, if testing availability is an issue in the community,” Daly said. “We will not test asymptomatic players ahead of symptomatic people who are unable to get tested. It’s just something we will not do.”

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One of the numerous options the NHL is looking at to get back up and running is “hub cities.” While Toronto has been mentioned in that scenario, Marner offered his opinion on one other city that has been mentioned as a front-runner.

“The other possibility I’ve heard is Columbus (Ohio),” he said with a tinge of disdain, adding, “Columbus compared to Vegas or Orlando? Let’s take it down a notch.”

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