Three East Division teams are paused due to COVID-19 outbreaks while 50 NHL players overall are sidelined (as of February 10) due to the disease. 17 of those players are from the New Jersey Devils – one of which, Connor Carrick, recently had his first child born. The Washington Capitals had three games postponed this week and their last game on Sunday required the Flyers to all unamionously pass rapid testing before the game was played.
Lars Eller, the Capitals’ alternate NHLPA representative, recently spoke out about his concerns after practice on Saturday.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 10, 2021
“I could probably talk 15, 20 minutes about this,” Eller said. “We have to do more. We have to do more whether it’s testing or putting in measures to protect us without it disturbing our preparation and the game being played. I think we have to do a little bit more and hopefully, the decision-makers together can figure out what those measures are that we have to take.”
Last Thursday, the NHL enhanced their COVID-19 protocols with the virus ravaging several teams. The league mandated the removal of the Plexiglass behind the bench during games to promote better air flow, limited team’s time at the arena, mandated more physical distancing in team spaces, and to have more air filtration and air cleaning.
Bench area has a new look with there being no glass, as per the NHL’s COVID protocols. pic.twitter.com/9GL6vQPo6s
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) February 4, 2021
“With about 20 percent of our season played, we are mindful of the fact that we might be seeing a more aggressive transmission of the virus and will continue to make adjustments to our protocols as we consult on a daily basis with, and adhere to, the recommendations of our medical advisors,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “It’s important to note that, while we have seen almost 100 players enter our COVID protocols, fewer than half have done so because of confirmed positive tests—and, among that group, many have not been symptomatic.”
Eller is one of the rare hockey players who has put his own time into trying to fight the disease with science and technology. In May 2020, he worked with the company Healthe to donate a Cleanse Portal to a DC homeless shelter in Northwest called Central Union Mission. The Cleanse Portal inactivates bacteria and viruses on skin, clothing, and goods.
“I don’t think anybody has done anything wrong per se,” Eller said on Wednesday when asked to elaborate on his views of the NHL’s protocols. “As this is evolving and we still see outbreaks within teams, it’s a learning curve, right? I think we need to evolve the protocols of how we protect ourselves inside buildings, probably more can be done than masks and distancing. We’re doing all these things. If that alone was enough, we wouldn’t be in this situation.
“I think the staff and the league has done a great job, especially over the summer to finish the playoffs. I think they’ve done a good job here as well. I’m not saying they haven’t. I just think it’s a fluid situation. There’s no playbook. Every country is doing it differently. Every state is doing it differently. Some doctors think one thing. Some doctors think another way is the right way. There’s no right playbook. [You] just learn and adjust and adapt like anything else.”
Two new more aggressive strains of coronavirus, which have higher levels of transmissibility, have made their way to the United States. The NHL recently learned of possible on-ice transmission between players and officials adding further risk to play games.
The two linesmen who worked both games of the Sabres-Devils series have entered COVID-19 protocols, The Athletic has learned.
This gives further evidence to the possibility of on-ice transmission, which the NHL said it had not definitively seen. https://t.co/PdsL9B19aP
— John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) February 8, 2021
Vegas Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek was also removed mid-game on Tuesday after the NHL learned of a positive test.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 10, 2021
While Eller is concerned, the New York Islanders announced on Wednesday that fans would be allowed to be back at games on February 23, joining a handful of teams that are already doing so.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 10, 2021
Meanwhile, Eller’s teammate, TJ Oshie, revealed that he wasn’t too concerned of getting the virus personally despite the recent struggles of his own teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov.
“Me no. Not really. I don’t know,” Oshie said. “I feel a lot of athletes have gotten it, it seems like. I don’t know. I just haven’t heard of a lot of guys taking it too bad.”
Kuznetsov told reporters after he returned from a 19-day quarantine that “I’m just happy I’m alive”, “now I understand people who have symptoms,” and “it’s not easy days.” Meanwhile, Samsonov struggled to walk and breathe while fighting the virus. Both players are young and in peak physical condition. Kuznetsov and Samsonov spent time in the same hotel room as Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov and were not wearing masks.
“There’s definitely people who have suffered from this and families that have suffered from it,” Oshie added. “So I completely understand that there needs to be a line. We gotta be very cautious about people and their families. It’s not just me. It’s my wife Lauren. My three kids. My father in law. I don’t know, it’s just really crazy times. I’m not too scared of getting it personally, but I’m following the rules I’ve been told to follow.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.