Interesting news from the Penguins’ last opponent, as the NHL fines the Washington Capitals $100,000 and has added four players to the “COVID protocol related absence” list.
The four players added to the list are all very high profile:
Travel Protocol: Each member of the Club’s Travelling Party will be required to stay in a single occupancy room; no individual shall permit guests or other personnel in their room (with exception of housekeeping/engineering staff, as needed...while individuals are not present)— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 21, 2021
Here is the Capitals statement on the matter:
The statement does build on existing reporting. Mainly, it appears that Ovechkin, Orlov, Kuznetsov, and Samsonov were all outside of team approved areas at some point (presumably without masks). At this point, however, we do not know if any Caps players have tested positive for COVID, nor how long they may be out for.
As of Wednesday night, a lot remains unknown. What exactly did these players do, just at times congregate together in a hotel room in Pittsburgh — where they stayed from Saturday night until before the game on Tuesday? That seems fairly innocuous enough considering they already are in a bubble together on team buses, planes, dressing rooms, jammed together on the benches while breathing heavy and all that good stuff in close quarters for long periods of time.
But does this situation run deeper? Were there other non-players present that constituted this heavy fine? How did the league even find out about this? Did any (or all) of these players test positive to indicate they had breached the procedures? All of the answers to these questions are presently unknown or unreported at the moment.
The last question is likely the most important, being as these players were in very close contact with the Penguins on Sunday and also just last night. It would be a messy situation if it comes out that several players may have been able to spread the virus to another team, if it came to that. Which, again, at this point we aren’t sure if that is a possibility. Or is not a possibility.
An important reminder is that simply being in “NHL protocol” does not necessarily mean a player has tested positive for the virus.
Friendly reminder that players appearing on the NHL's COVID Protocol list could be absent for a number of reasons: An unconfirmed positive COVID-19 test, a confirmed case of COVID-19, isolation while presenting symptoms, contact tracing or quarantine for travel reasons.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 15, 2021
Through testing, as of Wednesday we do know that the Penguins currently have no players in the NHL’s COVID protocol, and it certainly will be of keen attention in the coming days to hope that no further players from Pittsburgh (or Washington for that matter) are added to the list.
It also remains unknown how long the Capital players will be out or how long until they clear the NHL’s protocol. The Capitals are scheduled to play next on Friday in Washington. The Penguins also play on Friday, in Pittsburgh against the NY Rangers. The NHL has already had to postpone several games in the season’s first week.