In a surprise announcement, Jakub Vrana landed on the NHL’s COVID-19 Unavailability List on February 6. Vrana had missed practice earlier in the day, which the Capitals termed a maintenance day. Then a little after 5 pm that night, Vrana was in protocol.
V’s quarantine was short-lived. On February 9, three days later, the NHL cleared Vrana. The Czech forward only missed one Capitals game, a 7-4 loss to the Flyers.
On Sunday, Vrana explained what happened.
The 24-year-old didn’t test positive but was worried he contracted the disease.
“You know what? I just didn’t feel right,” Vrana said. “And when you’re in a situation like that, I thought it was the right thing to report it to the club and not risk [coming] into the practice facility and… potentially be positive. Get someone else sick [and] the whole team miss games. So I just wasn’t feeling right and I think it was the right thing to do and now I’m back on track and ready to play.”
Vrana scored in his first game back – a backhand goal in the second period.
V for Valentine's Day 😊 pic.twitter.com/y26YgonQyz
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 14, 2021
Vrana’s story reveals what type of additional anxiety and strategy NHL players must grapple with during a deadly pandemic that’s killed approximately 485,000 Americans and forced around 100 NHL players into protocol a month into the season. While the NHL has tried to make the season as safe as possible, the league opted to not play games in a bubble, meaning players could contract the disease from their families or interactions away from the team and bring the virus to the rink.
After teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov contracted the disease early in the season and the Capitals ended up being with four of its biggest stars, Vrana was overly-aggressive to not
“It’s a short season and every point matter here,” Vrana said.
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