While the Boston Bruins welcomed back head coach Bruce Cassidy from his bout with COVID, defensemen Connor Clifton, John Moore, and goaltender Linus Ullmark all missed practice Monday due to COVID testing issues.
While such COVID testing-related absences are unfortunately commonplace in the NHL these days, this latest incident was a bit more worrisome given the Calgary Flames, the team the Boston Bruins just beat 4-2 on Saturday night in Calgary, shut down operations due to COVID outbreak. As a result, the Flames’ next three games, including a scheduled tilt with the Chicago Blackhawks Monday night, were postponed.
“You can’t help it, right,” Cassidy said when asked about the Flames COVID outbreak Monday. “We don’t think there’s going to be an issue, but we have to play it safe here. They’ll go through their testing here today and hopefully, they’ll be back on the ice tomorrow.”
The rapid rise in COVID cases across North America over the last two months has already led to multiple games being postponed and teams being shut down, including the Bruins’ AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins postponing games two weekends ago. As a result, the NHL has once again tightened up its COVID protocol and rules. While that has been frustrating for Cassidy and the Bruins players, they realize it’s for the greater good and continue to roll with the punches.
“Say three weeks ago, we’re going to Toronto and we have to wear a mask. I’m like, ‘[Expletive], we’re starting this all over again,’” the Bruins bench boss said. “We did this in the bubble. You’re limited in your activities away from the rink even though none of the players have tested positive. There’s a lot of that stuff going on with the new regulations. And it’s all for everybody’s good, we understand that, but it does get very tiring.
“Now you see what happens with Calgary, they’re shut down. So are there any after-effects for our guys because we just played there? We hope not in the long run. So it is tough but that’s the way the world is now and you’ve got to battle through it.”
Cassidy told the media that he had “2-3 bad days” with headaches during his recent bout with COVID and credited being vaccinated for not suffering more or being hospitalized as some of his friends have been. During his quarantine, he was able to keep in touch with Joe Sacco – who filled in for him as head coach for the past three games – and the coaching staff via Zoom.
“You try to stay involved, but out of the way once the puck drops,” Cassidy said. “They did a great job, getting the guys ready to play,” Cassidy told reporters on Monday. “I’m looking forward to getting back at it”.