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13 May, 2020 16:53

'That's some dumb s**t': NHL fans slam doctor's plan to BAN fighting, scrums and spitting over fears of Covid-19 infections

'That's some dumb s**t': NHL fans slam doctor's plan to BAN fighting, scrums and spitting over fears of Covid-19 infections

Fans have reacted with dismay over suggestions that National Hockey League (NHL) players could be made to wear full face shields, give up fighting, scrums and spitting on the ice, and carry out social distancing during faceoffs.

Scrumming is an integral part of the game, but it could be outlawed under measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 as hockey chiefs scramble to complete a season which had more than a month of fixtures remaining when it was suspended on March 12.

Players could be ordered to wear shields in order to reduce the spread of droplets, forbidden from taking part in the fights that are an established part of the game in North America, and ordered not to spit on the ice or bench.

READ MORE: 'F**king idiots!' NHL goalie Lehner fumes at Sweden's lack of Covid-19 lockdown as death toll in country soars

An infectious disease specialist has also said that coaches should observe social distancing and wear face masks on the bench, and advised wingers to stay two feet apart in faceoffs, meaning they would avoid the tradition of crossing sticks and leaning into one another's space.

Supporters were shocked by the ideas reported by TSN, which would likely make the rules of the sport and the complexion of contests vastly different should they be adopted if the season resumes.

Many fans argued that the current campaign, which began in October and had been due to conclude with the Stanley Cup Finals in May and June, should be scrapped entirely rather than incorporating the measures.

"I realize we have to be safe but I'd rather see the season canceled than watch this," wrote one.

"This would be the s***tiest hockey ever," added another, echoing the words of a fellow fan who called the idea "some dumb s**t."

"And playoffs with no physical contact or fighting. Just throw this season in the trash if these are the things that have to happen. What a joke."

Other critics debated the consistency of the potential rule changes and how they could realistically be implemented.

"If you can't be close on faceoff, how can you allow close contact and hitting during the game?" asked one.

"I understand the sentiment but the bench will be far closer contact than a faceoff regardless. You either think it's safe or it's not."

No date, format or venues have been formally agreed for the NHL's return, although some teams have already begun preparing to play against the eerie atmosphere of empty arenas.

“We do a lot of scrimmages in training camp and the amount of things you can hear in the rink is incredible when you only have 20 people sitting in the stands watching,” Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno told the Hockey News.

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“I think that part of the game, the strategy side, will be the one that is going to change the most, whether it’s how you’re talking to each other on the bench or how you’re communicating certain things.

"Even coaches, they’re so used to yelling at you on the benches, because that’s the voice they need to have in order for you to hear them. So the comments are going to be like whispers now,” he added.