Bob Norton, the agent for Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle, told Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic that Coyle was deemed ‘unfit to play’ Saturday because he had an inconclusive COVID19 test. Coyle has since tested negative but in a Zoom call with the media Sunday, Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney did not have a timetable for his return or that of the eight other Bruins who as of Sunday were still on the ‘unfit to play’ list. Sweeney did say that some of those players skated Sunday at the team’s practice facility, Warrior Arena in Brighton, MA but did not identify which players laced them up for a twirl.
Here’s the definition of an inconclusive COVID19 test:
The UW SARS-CoV-2 Real-time RT-PCR assay targets two distinct gene regions (see SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Qualitative PCR [NCVQLT] for details). When one of the two targets, but not both, is present above the threshold for positivity, the test is reported as “inconclusive”. This is usually seen with low amounts of viral DNA. In practice, “inconclusive” results should be treated as presumptive positive COVID cases.
Sweeney acknowledged that the sudden rash of players on the ‘unfit to play’ list has obviously presented problems for the team and specifically the coaching staff as they try to find the right line combos and defensive pairings, but the Bruins were well aware they would likely encounter such scenarios.
“You’d like to be at full capacity the entire time, but I referenced the fact that we weren’t going to be,” the Bruins GM said. “We were going to have situations that would arise, and we’d have to deal with the mental side of it. That goes for the coaches as well, to have the ability to be flexible and change what they had intended to do, because of what they have to do. They went out and had a great practice yesterday with the players that were available and did the things they wanted to accomplish in the course of that practice.
“We have players on the ice again today. We’ll hopefully have a full group tomorrow, but again, we have to wait until test results come back on a daily basis and see who’s available to practice and move forward. The best-laid plans sometimes go astray. You have to be able to adapt on the fly, and I think our coaches are also understanding that now. As we get closer to moving to the hub, we certainly would like to have our full group at some point in time to be able to practice at the level and execute at the level we expect them to.”
As for forward David Pastrnak missing five of the first six practices (he did skate Wednesday in an optional skate), Sweeney did admit it is getting to the point where it could leave the team’s leading goal scorer – who potted a league-leading 48 goals this season – behind the eight-ball. Sweeney, however, did not indicate that they were at the point where they were worried that Pastrnak or any of the ‘unfit to play’ players would not be traveling to Toronto next Sunday for Phase 4 of the NHL Return and the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“A player missing a day here or there, it’s not that big of a deal,” Sweeney said. “But when you’re starting to miss weeks on end, which we’ve had a couple players be in that category, you’ll certainly have rust to knock off. We have some players who had been skating quite a bit leading up to Phase 3, but the timing I think more than anything, the continuity with your linemates, situations you have to work through as you go through practices, you’re going to have to hopefully get them up to full speed when you do have them back in a shorter period of time.
“It’s not ideal by any means, but that’s just what you have to deal with going forward. I think every team pretty much will probably face it at some point in time unless they’re just incredibly fortunate, and good for them. But we’re not in that situation, so I can’t change that. All I can do is worry about and plan for what we have to do moving forward.”