By Ian Oland
The NHL’s pause due to the COVID-19 outbreak begins on Wednesday. But today is Tuesday. The COVID-ravaged Capitals were scheduled to play the Flyers and the disease was still prevalent.
So here’s how the morning went.
Defenseman Justin Schultz and forward Daniel Sprong were pulled from the Capitals’ morning skate after their initial COVID-19 tests results were known, according to The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell. Pell said the players were set to be re-tested and an official determination on their statuses would be made later for the game.
The Capitals took line rushes and the one piece of good news from the skate was that Tom Wilson fully participated. Wilson appeared ready to return for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But once the skate was over, the Capitals’ media availability was abruptly canceled.
The #Caps just cancelled media availability this morning. So, yeah…
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) December 21, 2021
NBC’s Jordan Hall reported John Carlson came out in street clothes and said to the remaining players on the ice, “we’re leaving.”
John Carlson came out in dress clothes and said “we’re leaving” to some of the remaining Capitals on the ice. pic.twitter.com/d43q4svaFT
— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) December 21, 2021
Minutes later, the NHL announced that the Capitals-Flyers game was off.
SCHEDULE UPDATE: NHL postpones tonight’s @Capitals at @NHLFlyers game. https://t.co/qrHzfOJRoa pic.twitter.com/xAUTByPBtF
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 21, 2021
Adam Kimmelman reported that it was due to COVID-19 problems plaguing the Capitals, who were already without Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and TJ Oshie.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported that the Capitals hadn’t complained about playing without so many key players and were “fighting through it.”
Backstrom, Kuznetsov & Oshie didn't travel. Hayes pulled from practice yesterday. Both teams were hopeful for no more positives today..
FWIW Caps had not complained to NHL about playing w/out so many key players. They were fighting through it, seeing what they had in young guys. https://t.co/fzVJM4q2M1
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) December 21, 2021
The disease, like it has so many times before, won. That “mettle” could leave the Capitals without as many as five core players if games start up early next week.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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