Kaapo Kakko’s diabetes may keep him from Rangers if NHL returns


Rangers president John Davidson says he promises to listen to science when it comes to the safety of his players amid the NHL’s plans to open club training facilities for small-group workouts.

With Kaapo Kakko, who has Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, on the roster, Davidson said there has been extensive discussions internally regarding how to best handle the rookie’s medical conditions.

“I know that he’s skating and working out like mad men to try to get ready to come back. I’m sure he’s going to want to play, but at the same time, again, it’s important for everybody to be taken care of regarding their health,” Davidson said on a Zoom call with reporters Thursday. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a 19-year-old young player or if you’re an older executive. Everything has to be done in the right fashion.

“If he, hypothetically, cannot play, he can’t play. We’re going to take care of him, he’s a big part of us. If he can play, he’s going to play and I’m sure he’s going to want to play. But we listen to the science, we listen to the medical people, they’re going to tell us what to do.”

According to the 22-page memo released by the league on Monday, no more than six players at a time will be permitted in a team’s facility and coaches will not be allowed to participate in any on-ice activity during Phase 2 of its reopening. Teams are responsible for testing players for COVID-19 at least twice a week as well. Testing is expected to ramp up when training camps actually begin during Phase 3, which players were informed Thursday afternoon won’t be before July 10, according to Sportsnet.

Players who are returning to their team’s respective home cities via public transportation, including commercial air travel, must self-quarantine for 14 days before joining workouts. Davidson didn’t reveal if any of the European players had plans on returning to New York for the voluntary workouts.

“I think that right now we’re on hold, we don’t even know when Phase 2 is going to happen yet, we haven’t been told when we’re going to be able to open the facility,” Davidson said.

However, Davidson said Rangers personnel, including coach David Quinn and the training staff, has been in contact with all the players — including Lias Andersson, whom the Rangers loaned to HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League after he asked for a trade in December — since play was suspended. The team has kept track of each player’s health, training and access to rinks and facilities.

The organization has also sent slide boards to each and every player to help with training and maintain their feel for the game. There have also been Zoom yoga classes made available to players.

“I know that some guys, in both Europe and North America, there’s private places they go to, some of them haven’t skated because they haven’t been able to depending on where they live,” Davidson said. “That’s why the slide boards come in handy.”

The league has yet to inform teams of how many players will be allowed at training camp or brought to the hub cities, according to Davidson.

“One thing we all have to remember here is, this is a fluid situation regarding dates of when we’re going to have a camp, when we’re going to play,” Davidson said. “Who knows?”



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