Jim Souhan
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The Wild will resume play on Sunday night.

Unlike the Vikings, their trainer in charge of coronavirus testing has not tested positive for the coronavirus.

Unlike the Vikings, the Wild has not had a slew of players placed in COVID protocol for either testing positive or being exposed to someone who has tested positive.

Unlike Minnesota United or members of the NWSL, the Wild is not part of a league that has had entire teams withdraw because of COVID.

Unlike the Twins, it is not part of a league that has seen 17 games postponed in the first 10 days of play because of the virus.

Unlike the Timberwolves, it is not part of a league that featured a quality player busting the league bubble to visit a strip club for — what else? — chicken wings.

Unlike college football, the NHL didn’t experience widespread breakouts of the virus even before teams assembled.

Unlike the WNBA, no NHL players have complained about the quality of life in their bubble.

Six months ago, the NHL seemed a long shot to become a model for COVID protocols, because it has long seemed a backward league run by a stereotypically bland bureaucrat.

As of today, the NHL is winning the dangerous game of responsibly returning to action.

This is an upset.

The NHL’s resumption required international flights and long quarantines.

The nature of the sport requires players to hit, sweat upon and breathe upon each other.

In recent years, the NHL had trouble controlling even the mumps and staph infections.

So how did the NHL, “The Andy Griffith Show” of sports leagues, become a leader in virus control, with all of its players testing negative even after traveling to Edmonton and Toronto?

Gary Bettman, the punching bag of a commissioner, deserves credit.

He reportedly wanted to resume play in at least one American city. Las Vegas was a top option. Then he watched Vegas open casinos and spread the virus and decided to reopen in one of the many countries that has far outpaced the United States in virus control — Canada.

MLB and the NFL should immediately pack, drive to the border and bribe their way into Canada with vats of poutine.

What we have learned in the past month is that a bubble is vital to restarting a sports league. The NBA and WNBA are functioning in bubbles located in Florida, one of the states that has managed the virus the worst.

Baseball is flying infected players all over the country, and its previous plan was to play in Arizona, Texas and Florida, three states in which the virus has purchased timeshares.

The NFL plans to start its season in September and follow baseball’s bumbling lead. The league has already canceled its preseason but seems intent on playing its regular season as scheduled.

MLB and the NFL are reminders of an old saying: Hope is not a plan.

Arrogant leadership can kill a citizen or a season.

During his tenure, Bettman has helped create a faster, cleaner game that rewards skill, he has signed a new CBA with the players during a pandemic, and he has made common-sense moves that could make the NHL the sports league of the year 2020.

NHL players deserve credit, too. Once known for beer-drinking and brawling in bars after games, hockey players have become, in general, disciplined businessmen in recent years. That discipline has been evidenced by all of their negative tests.

The Stanley Cup playoffs will be lessened by empty seats, but for most fans most games are television events, and the NHL will be televising a lot of quality entertainment over the next few months.

If you want to resume play as a major sports league, you should follow Bettman’s rules:

1. Work in tandem with the players association.

2. Move everything to Canada.

Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com