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Three Red Wings Back, Eight Still on COVID list; Game Wednesday?



Marc Staal, Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin admits the looming presence of COVID-19 is unnerving for the players.

Still awash in uncertainty regarding what the near future is holding for them, the Detroit Red Wings were welcoming back three more players from COVID-19 protocol on Monday.

Forwards Givani Smith, Pius Suter and Carter Rowney were cleared to be rejoining the team. As well, head coach Jeff Blashill and assistant coach Alex Tanguay also were leaving protocol and resuming their duties.

That being said, eight Detroit players are remaining in COVID-19 protocol. They include goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, defensemen Nick Leddy and Jordan Oesterle and forwards Filip Zadina, Lucas Raymond, Adam Erne, Sam Gagner and Joe Veleno.

Regardless, for the time being, Detroit’s game Wednesday at UBS Arena against the New York Islanders is still remaining on the NHL schedule.

“We’re planning on playing until someone tells us otherwise,” Blashill said. “It’s on our schedule and we’re planning on playing. Given the fact the NHL canceled some other games and didn’t cancel ours, I’d assume we’re going to play.

“That’s the mindset we wanted to get across to our players today and the mindset we have. So you kind of move ahead as business as usual.”

Suter made the choice of opting to skate on his own on Monday.

“He wanted to avoid coming right off protocol and practicing,” Blashill explained.

Other players could come out of COVID-19 protocols prior to Wednesday’s game.

“You always have the possibility of having no symptoms and two negative tests in a row and then guys can come out,” Blashill said.

The Wings beat the New Jersey Devils prior to the Christmas break while missing several players due to COVID-19. Four Islanders players were placed into COVID-19 protocol on Sunday.

COVID-19 Preying On Red Wings’ Psyche

Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin was admitting that it’s been hard for the players who haven’t tested positive to not be thinking about the looming presence of COVID-19 within the team.

You’re thinking about it constantly,” Larkin said. “I guess there’s a little bit of anxiousness with testing every day. You show up to the rink wondering if you’re gonna be done for 10 days, or if you’re gonna be able to play.”

Like any other adversity that ends up standing in their way, Larkin believes the key is to just roll with the punches.

“You have to be a good pro,” Larkin said. “You have to be ready for whatever comes at you but it is very difficult. It can be frustrating at times I’m sure for the guys that test positive and don’t have symptoms.

“They have the protocols and we just try to follow them the best we can. It is a very tough situation showing up and not knowing if you’re gonna be positive or negative. It’s difficult at times.”

Red Wings Forming Taxi Squad

Detroit was making the decision Monday to recall four players from AHL Grand Rapids to be serving as the club’s taxi squad. Those getting the call up were forward Riley Barber, defensemen Dan Renouf and Luke Witkowski, and goaltender Victor Brattstrom.

The Griffins, meanwhile, were signing signed center Josh Dickinson, left wing Max Humitz and defenseman Gordi Myer to professional tryouts to help fill the roster void the creation of this taxi squad was causing.