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Non-COVID Illness Ripping Through Boston Bruins Roster

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BRIGHTON, Mass – Things have not gone smoothly for the Boston Bruins over the last few weeks with trade requests, a COVID outbreak among the coaching staff and a three-game suspension for winger Brad Marchand.

The good news is that Marchand will return for the upcoming three-game road trip through Western Canada with games against the Canucks, Flames and Oilers, and that Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is no longer symptomatic as he works his way back from COVID. The bad news is that a non-COVID illness is now ripping through the Boston Bruins team and caused Charlie McAvoy to miss Saturday night’s overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Linus Ullmark, Charlie Coyle, Tomas Nosek and Matt Grzelcyk were all missing from Monday morning’s practice at Warrior ice Arena just hours before the team was supposed to leave for British Columbia. Beset by illness, the Boston Bruins actually had to push their flight itinerary to Canada back until Tuesday afternoon with the hope it would allow some of those players to feel well enough to get on the team plane. Ideally the Bruins like to fly out to the west coast a day early, get a practice day in and adjust to the time difference prior to playing any games, and that was the initial plan.

But that’s all been scratched now. The Bruins have recalled Oskar Steen, John Moore and Jack Ahcan from Providence as healthy reinforcements and they’ll just jump right into game action Wednesday in Vancouver after flying to Vancouver on Tuesday afternoon. Nosek will not travel with the team to Vancouver as he still recovers from illness, but both Coyle and Grzelcyk will travel despite not feeling well enough to practice on Tuesday morning.

“It’s a non-COVID illness. They were all out because of it and they missed practice [on Monday] because of it,” said Boston Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “There’s been a change of plans and now we’re leaving [on Tuesday]. We wanted to give our guys an extra to hopefully feel better, reset, give it another 24 hours and go from there. So we’ll fly out on [Tuesday].”

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Ullmark returned to practice on Tuesday replacing emergency practice goalie Tuukka Rask after his one-practice stint on Monday, but Coyle, Nosek and Grzelcyk were all once again missing from the practice ice ahead of the team plane leaving for Canada.

In addition to the sick players that completely missed practice on Monday, McAvoy skated on his own on Monday following practice while working his way back from illness as well. Patrice Bergeron also missed Monday’s practice, but that was to get his nose reset after it was broken yet again by a nasty, high hit from Filip Forsberg in last week’s win over the Nashville Predators.

Bergeron was wearing a full face shield to protect the recently repaired nose when he returned to Boston Bruins practice on Tuesday morning ahead of the road trip.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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