The Islanders will be among the first teams in North American pro sports leagues to close locker room access to the media in wake of coronavirus concerns, a source told The Post.
Teams that choose to close their locker rooms will hold media availability in formal press conference areas.
The Islanders lost an afternoon game to the Hurricanes at the Coliseum, while the Devils will face the Rangers on Saturday night at the Garden.
“We cannot control the amount of press that go in the room, who have credentials, who come from everywhere,” Islanders president Lou Lamoriello told reporters Saturday. So we’re going to pro-act to that, and it is my understanding that Carolina will pro-act to that.”
Asked if the league has addressed the potential of limiting fan attendance at future games, Lamoriello added: “Right now, you’re as updated as I am what the league has done, has given us many materials that are available, as far as what to do to prevent it, and what we have to do in our locker rooms and around everything we do. You’ll know as soon as we know, just like you know right now. In fact you (in the media) knew before I did.”
The Rangers didn’t disclose whether they would join the Islanders in keeping the media out of the locker room, and it is unclear whether the Devils will do the same.
“I know that J.D. and J.R. and Jeff have been talking about that, and to be honest with you that’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about,” David Quinn said before Saturday’s game against the Devils, referring to team president John Davidson, VP of public relations John Rosasco and GM Jeff Gorton. “I have to come in here regardless of where you’re gonna talk to the players, so I guess we’ll probably address that after the game.”
An ESPN report on Saturday said the league, following a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had mandated that teams close locker room. An NHL source, however, said that was not the case.
“Teams might make individual calls based on their own situations. But there is no league-wide mandate for today [or] tonight,” the source said. ”Myriad concepts being discussed in all areas. Nothing finalized. “
The NHL previously had banned international travel for league-office employees. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN earlier this week that the NHL was “starting to explore contingency plans” should the coronavirus become a more significant health threat in North America ahead of the 2019-20 playoffs.
Daly didn’t rule out the potential for postponing or canceling games, or playing games in empty arenas without fans.
“I think it’s very unlikely — knock on wood, I’m hopeful — that we would progress to a stage where we have to consider something that dramatic,” Daly told ESPN. “But certainly everything is possible, and we have to look at all possible contingencies. If it gets to that point, we will be ready.”