Buckle up, folks. This ride might be getting extra bumpy.
The Blackhawks canceled Saturday’s scheduled practice at Fifth Third Arena, citing “an abundance of caution due to potential exposure of COVID-19,” according to a series of tweets from the team’s official Twitter account.
The organization has, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines to protect the health and safety of players and staff as set by the NHL as well as local and state agencies.— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 30, 2021
Saturday’s news comes at the end of a week when the Blackhawks have had their first significant brush with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic during the season.
It started on Monday, when Alex DeBrincat and Adam Boqvist were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. According to the team statement, there are several factors that can land a player on this list:
- an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed
- mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals
- required quarantine as a high-risk close contact
- isolation based on confirmed positive test result.
Coach Jeremy Colliton later said that both players — who live together in Chicago — would be out for two weeks.
Two days later, offseason free agent signing Lucas Wallmark became the third player added to the list.
According to this tweet from Sun-Times reporter Ben Pope, any potential additions to the COVID-19 Protocol list will be known at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday’s game against the Blue Jackets remains on the schedule.
The pandemic has made its impact all over the NHL through the first month of the season:
- Four players from the Capitals — including Alex Ovechkin — were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list resulting in team fines for violating the league’s travel protocols
- Next week’s games between the Golden Knights and Sharks were postponed with Vegas having four people in the protocol, including all three of its coaches.
- The Stars’ first four games were postponed by various pandemic-related issues, as Dallas didn’t take the ice until a Jan. 22 game against Nashville.
[UPDATE] Later on Saturday, the Blackhawks announced that two more players were added to the COVID-19 Protocol list: forward Ryan Carpenter and defenseman Nicolas Beaudin.
With the aforementioned trio already on the list, that brings the team’s number to five. As detailed by the information above, placement on this list does not necessarily mean that either player tested positive. However, that further depletes what was already a decimated Chicago lineup.
According to this report from The Athletic, no decision has been made regarding the status of Sunday’s game against the Blue Jackets, and a final call will not be made until at least Sunday morning.