Three teams are in total lockdown until Christmas. Big names added to the “COVID list”. Matches are postponed. The first duel behind closed doors. Teams that reduce stadium load…
The increase in COVID-19 cases in the NHL continued Friday. Famous players have been added to the list of players on involuntary leave due to COVID-19 (reminder: not all of these players have to have the virus, but they can be in close contact with them).
The Toronto Maple Leafs have the names of forwards John Tavares and Alex Kerfoot on them. In Edmonton, the Oilers added the name Ryan Nugent Hopkins, while in Washington, the Capitals did the same with Niklas Backstrom.
Currently, at least three teams have suspended activities until Christmas: Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanches.
In the case of The Flames, the decision was clear, with four players remaining who are not in isolation. “We have a very good team left to play three against three! Flames general manager Brad Treleving joked in a video conference with Calgary media on Friday.
But the avalanche began Thursday despite the absence of five players, all on the sidelines due to COVID-19. Among them: top goalkeeper Darcy Comber and the amazing defender Cal Makar. In the opposing camp, the Predators had to deal with absentees, especially support players, but their coaching staff was also on the sidelines! So he was leading them coaches from the school club.
“It’s not good for hockey when five or six guys are missing on one end. It’s up to the league to decide if we go on or stop. It’s not ideal,” said Jonathan Drouin, after Thursday’s CH game.
On the health side, it looks good. Flames’ Medical Directors Ian Old said the majority of the players had mild or no symptoms. He revealed that four to six players developed “mild” symptoms and “chills and fever or fatigue”, symptoms that disappeared “within 36 to 48 hours”.
For its part, Treleving admitted that players’ family members were also injured, without going into details.
considered ds Auld noted that “with the other variables, the risk of transmission on the rink was minimal. With Omicron, we don’t know the data yet.” The doctor also explained that three of the team’s cases were omicron. However, not all results were received. “I tell myself that if there are three, there are certainly more, if these are not all our issues,” he admitted.
Even before the cases exploded this week, players publicly voiced skepticism about attending the Olympics. Conor McDavid and Alex Petrangelo, who already have a place if NHL players go to Beijing, were hesitant. Before the Flyers-Canadian duel on Thursday, it was Sean Couturier’s turn, whose place was not guaranteed, but would be part of the discussions.
“Not necessarily because of COVID, but with everything that surrounds it [les Jeux] ‘, he said. New Brunswicker added the diplomatic boycott of Canada and the United States to the factors that made him hesitate. ‘If we’re there, who do we go to if we have any problems?’ […] Personally, this scares me. ”
In short, doubts about the NHL’s presence in the Olympics are growing, whether due to players’ concerns or postponed games that must be resumed. For example, The Flames will have six to resume since it has been on a hiatus for a week already. In the current calendar, duels are already scheduled until April 29. We can guess the NHL won’t want to start the playoffs again in mid-May…
From a logistical point of view, there are thus arguments for the NHL to ignore the Olympics. She has until January 10 to declare this without a fine. If this scenario is confirmed, a period of time from February 3 to 22 will open to reschedule meetings.
From a health point of view, stopping activities likely won’t hurt the slowdown in the development of COVID-19 in teams. “I have been following the situation for months for the sake of the flame. I have never seen such a level of transmission,” admitted Dr.s Old.
And from an economic standpoint, Thursday’s closed-door game at the Bell Center brought in exactly zero dollars at the box office. Maple Leafs and senators can only sell 50 percent of their tickets, while Canucks and Jets announced Friday that they will emulate them starting next week.
So hockey stakeholders are questioning the urgency of the NHL to move forward with games in the current context. Former Canadian Nick Cousins asked the question publicly on Twitter on Thursday.
We will know fairly quickly if his complaints will be heard.