Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron became the third Bruins player in 24 hours to be placed in COVID protocol on Wednesday morning.
Bergeron also became the 37th NHLer since Sunday to enter COVID Protocol but shortly thereafter, the Calgary Flames added seven more players to their COVID protocol to bring their total to 16 players in COVID protocol.
Three league sources all confirmed to Boston Hockey Now on Wednesday morning that the Bruins, Habs, and Sens are all in discussions with the league about postponing the Boston Bruins games in Montreal Saturday and Ottawa on Sunday. As of now though, the common thread as one source put it was “It’s too early to tell”.
Early Wednesday afternoon, another league source told BHN that the Senators made it clear to the NHL that they would prefer the Bruins don’t come to Canadian Tire Centre Sunday to play the Sens. Remember, the Senators had three games postponed in November due to ten players and a staff member going into COVID protocol.
Late Wednesday morning, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told the media that the plan now is for the Bruins to travel to Long Island Wednesday afternoon for their game with the New York Islanders on Thursday night and then stay an extra day on the Island to minimize the chance of more COVID cases up in Canada where the Omicron variant is running rampant. If a Bruins player was to test positive in Canada, he would then be stuck there for two weeks in quarantine.
Bruins will be staying in NY after Thursday nights game vs Islanders to try and avoid any players getting marooned in Canada if they pop a positive test. Bruins players testing positive in Canada could be stuck there for a few weeks. That would be problematic
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) December 15, 2021
The Boston Bruins had already put Bergeron’s longtime linemate Brad Marchand and winger Craig Smith in COVID Protocol on Tuesday. Cassidy just returned from a 12-day bout with COVID and coached his first game since November 28 as the Bruins lost to the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 Tuesday night. Bergeron played and scored the Bruins’ lone goal in the loss.
Bruins defensemen Connor Clifton and John Moore, as well as goalie Linus Ullmark, missed practice Monday due to COVID testing issues but were all back on the ice Tuesday and dressed for the loss to the Knights.
After the Boston Bruins beat the Flames 4-2 on Saturday night, six Flames players and a staff member tested positive Sunday night, were placed in COVID protocol on Monday morning and remained home in isolation. Three more Flames players, including old friend Milan Lucic, joined them on Tuesday. With the team having to cross the US border for its next scheduled game in Chicago, they and the NHL decided it was time to shut things down and postponed at least the next three games for the Flames.
With the rapid rash of positive cases across the NHL, the league, the NHLPA, and federal governments in the United States and Canada have reportedly been working the phones within the last 48 hours to try and find a way to slow down the spread. Many around the NHL are having flashbacks to the days leading into the March 12 pause but by all accounts, another pause at this point is a drop-dead last resort. Instead according to numerous reports, the NHL will return to the stricter COVID protocol rules they had in the bubble in 2020 and for much of last season.
The response I got from a league source was no,” TSN NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun said on Insider Trading Tuesday night. “I do not anticipate or envision a league shut down. I got the exact same answer, we all did today, from an NHLPA source as well. They don’t anticipate a shutdown either. But, that’s not to say there’s not a lot at play right here. Number one, the doctors who have been advising both the NHL and the NHLPA are having a call tonight to discuss the latest happenings, which are happening very quickly, and presumably to suggest the next steps.
What could that be? Well, enhanced protocols I think would be on the table which is more mask-wearing around the league and the facilities. How about daily testing? Since the start of the season, players had been tested every three days. Could it go to daily testing with advanced measures? So, look for all of those things to potentially come to fruition here over the next few days.”
With rash of COVID cases in the NHL this week — including nearly the entire Flames roster — expect NHL & NHLPA to announce enhanced protocols.
Daily testing, mandatory masks, limited community interactions.
Many NHL players have been boosted, but league hasn’t mandated it.
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) December 15, 2021
While a pause may not be looming, as mentioned above, there’s still a very real chance the Bruins don’t travel to Canada this weekend.