There aren't many things Lou Lamoriello hasn't seen in his 30-plus years as an NHL General Manager. The league indefinitely pausing operations due to a pandemic, as they currently are, due to COVID-19, is a first.
Lamoriello updated reporters via conference call on Monday, as the league announced that players had the ability to return to their respective homes for self-quarantine, a protective measure against the contagious virus, until at least March 27. Lamoriello said that some of his players have arranged to go home, but as of Monday afternoon, no players have left Long Island.
"I'm sure there will be a couple going home," Lamoriello said. "I could not at this time tell you exactly who it is and who isn't because some of them have changed [their minds] in the last couple of hours whether they will or they won't."
Players are currently not permitted to practice or workout at the team's facilities at Northwell Health Ice Center, with an exemption for players on injured reserve who require rehab/treatment. Northwell is currently closed to the public, as is Islanders Iceworks.
Lamoriello said he does not know if or when the league will resume play, but is operating under the mindset of an eventual return to be prepared in that circumstance. The Isles GM said the league is evaluating all different options with regards to regular season scheduling, playoff formats, etc., but that no decisions have been made, due to the rapidly changing nature of regional restrictions. Lamoriello praised the league and player's association for keeping open lines of communication and said the Isles management has done the same with the players.
"What we are doing right now is looking at what the potential of what many different options might be and certainly knowing the options that we're looking at might never happen," Lamoriello said. "We're also preparing ourselves that we will play this year, not knowing when that might be and knowing that it might not happen."
Lamoriello added that it's too early to determine how the NHL's pause will affect offseason dates like the draft currently scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal, and free agency on July 1.
"As far as offseason preparation, there are so many questions that have to be answered," Lamoriello said. "There are certainly so many variables involved with the intent of trying to play, you don't know how far into a date that will go, which will push other dates back. We're all guessing right now. It's very difficult and understandably so."
As for testing, Lamoriello said COVID-19 testing is available to Islanders players and staff on a voluntary basis. He did not have any results of those tests, or specify who had asked to be tested.
If the schedule resumes, Lamoriello said the Islanders intention is to play future games at the Coliseum. The Islanders last game at Barclays Center was scheduled for March 22, but with no activity allowed prior to March 27, it does not appear that date will be made up.
There are many things that can change in the upcoming weeks, in what Lamoriello called a "fluid process." These are uncharted waters for the league, between restrictions on gatherings, travel bans and quarantine recommendations and the Islanders brass is taking things day by day but will be prepared for any situation that is decided upon.