By Jennifer Roback, News Editor
With the NHL season being put on hold because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Many hockey affiliated companies and teams have stepped up to help both staff members who have been affected, as well as the medical professionals who are on the front lines battling this virus.
On March 12, 2020, after a meeting with the Board of Governors, the NHL officially decided to suspend the rest of the season during to the Coronavirus. Because of the suspension of the rest of the season, like most companies, this left many full-time and part-time employees wondering what will happen to them and their paychecks.
One American Hockey League (AHL), team created a t-shirt to help pay their staff during this time. The Utica Comets, who play at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, NY, made a shirt with the saying “Puck the Virus.” For $25, the proceeds are meant to go towards around 50 employees who work for the Comets.
“As the smallest Market in the AHL, we don’t have the luxury of a billionaire owner. It’s all locally owned and operated. This hits home for ALL employees of the Utica Comets and our building. That’s why we’re selling the shirts,” said Alicia Daddario, the in-game host and brand Ambassador for the Utica Comets on twitter
On the major level, the majority of NHL teams have decided that their employees will be paid in some way. The Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabers are the exception so far handling their situations in the same way. On March 21, the Boston Bruins announced a $1.5-million fund for the part-time and game day employees, however, this is only contingent on if the games they were scheduled to work get cancelled, with the suspension of the season games have yet to be cancelled meaning that employees have yet to be paid.
“This entire situation has made me reconsider (being a part of) the Garden after the COVID pandemic ends,” said an employee who works at the Bruins stadium in an interview with Yahoo! Sports.
Despite this, teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning released a comprehensive plan to pay their employees throughout the rest of the remaining seven home games as well as the NCAA games that were scheduled in the Amalie Arena.
Players are also helping to fight the pay-day struggle during this time. The Vegas Golden Knights pledged at least $500,000 to game day and arena staff while their goalie Marc-Andre Fleury pledged an additional $100,000 to help.
Outside of teams paying staff, popular hockey companies such as Bauer, who are responsible for making equipment from sticks to goalie protection equipment, have now started to manufacture protective equipment to send to doctors and first responders.
“When hockey went on pause, our engineers got together to try and figure out ways that we could help,” said the Vice President of Bauer, Mary-Kate Messier, in an interview with NBC Sports.
The company partnered up with their sister company Cascade, who had already been producing lacrosse masks, to help their efforts. After working with medical professionals, they were able to come up with a prototype in just four days. Messier said that in just around 48 hours, there were orders for over one-million of these masks.
This has gotten acknowledgement from players as well. Former Chicago Blackhawks Left Wing Patrick Sharp said, “I have been head to toe Bauer since the age of 15 and I think what they’re doing is incredible.”
While the Coronavirus has caused upset to many during this Pandemic. There are ways that people are trying to help in any way they can. Whether it be teams and players paying for game day staff’s salaries to companies creating masks to help those on the front line. It takes us one step closer to ending this.
“We need our staff and athletes to be involved and help keep our community together,” said Messier.