TRENTON, N.J. – Ice hockey players are feeling the cold shoulder from Gov. Phil Murphy. Now that New Jersey has authorized gyms, indoor dining and entertainment venues to resume operations with proper safety precautions, Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Kevin J. Rooney are calling on the governor to allow athletes to return to ice rinks.
“Ice hockey officials have consulted with medical professionals to design a safe return to the rink. I’ve spoken with parents, players and local associations and they are confident that we have the protocols in place to protect against the transmission of the coronavirus,” said Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Ocean). “As programs like football start back up, it is illogical to exclude ice hockey, a sport with no skin-to-skin contact and players that don’t come into contact with the puck.”
Research from Eastern Michigan University shows that during a typical hockey game player-to-player close proximity is limited to 3 seconds. Dr. Mike Stuart of the Mayo Clinic and USA Hockey’s chief medical and safety officer, along with other medical professionals, have determined that the sport is safe to play provided the proper precautions are exercised.
“It’s to our young player’s detriment that the governor chooses to ignore the facts. A safe return to competitions is possible and is happening in neighboring states like Pennsylvania,” said Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney (R-Bergen). “If people can exercise inside a gym and go to movie theaters, they can play ice hockey.”
On October 1, USA Hockey Executive Director Pat Kelleher sent a letter to Judith Persichilli, New Jersey’s health commissioner, and Dr. Christina Tan, the state epidemiologist, to support the Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association’s request to return to ice hockey. The AAHA, which oversees youth ice hockey associations in New Jersey, issued guidelines that emphasize Covid-19 mitigation strategies such as face masks, proper hygiene and sanitization, and practical social distancing.
New Jersey’s Department of Health defines hockey as a medium risk sport. Beginning July 8, no-contact ice hockey practices were permitted to return indoors; however, sports in the medium risk category are currently only able to participate in competitions outdoors.
“We are urging Governor Murphy to work with us. Be a team player and allow ice hockey athletes to responsibly resume indoor competitions and scrimmages,” said the lawmakers.