The Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders have had multiple games postponed because of COVID-19. The Pittsburgh Penguins were hit hard. Even Sidney Crosby ended up with a positive test. Other teams have players on the list as well.
No end to the impact of this virus seems to be in sight.
Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has tested positive for COVID and won’t be behind the bench tonight when his team plays the Red Wings. He isn’t the first coach to miss games.
“I think it’s something that we had hoped we wouldn’t have to be in these spots as a league,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said.
The Red Wings still have Danny DeKeyser in COVID protocol, but no other player has followed him.
“I think we have to balance as a group staying a vigilant as possible while also living,” Blashill said.
The CDC has identified a new COVID strain called omicron. Now, the conversation inside and outside the hockey world is about booster shots.
“I’m not going to get too deep into that,” Blashill said. “Certainly, those conversations have been had. It’s up to each individual. There’s no mandate on a booster shot.”
NHL players are not living in a bubble. They go home at night and interact with family members who are also living their lives. Being cautious doesn’t mean you are safe.
“I think it’s something that even when you take great precaution you can still get struck with it, whether it be individually or as a group,” Blashill said. “If that happens, we’ll have to deal with it at that moment.”
COVID also in AHL
The Providence Bruins, Boston’s American League affiliate, has been hit so hard by the virus that they have temporarily shut down their operation.
“We’ve had those conversations, (about) what’s the best way to approach it,” Blashill said. “… it’s really hard to predict. There’s so much of your life that if you don’t shut down or don’t even end up living in a bubble then what you have to do is take the best precaution you can, you have to mask whenever possible, you have to wash your hands. You have to do those things that have been proven effective in helping combat it. We’ve talked about it.”
Blashill said the key is not to get to where the NHL was last season when teams had to live in a bubble with less freedom than players have this season.
“I don’t think anybody was interested in doing that for a full season again,” Blashill said. “But if that’s what it takes, then we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it. It might be sooner than later, I don’t know that, but those talks have happened.”