Well, it took a few months, but here we are. The Bruins are dealing with their first outbreak of COVID-19 on the team. They were one of the last few standing who hadn’t had to deal with it. Luckily, it’s not too bad right now, with only five players on the list. Hopefully, that number doesn’t grow in the coming days.
The first positive test came yesterday when Sean Kuraly was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. But, after further testing, they determined that it was safe for the Bruins to play the Sabres (who had a staff member join the list yesterday as well) last night. They were hoping it was just another false positive, as the Bruins had recently had two others. But, they were wrong, and for many reasons, last night’s game shouldn’t have been played, but more on that later.
Fast forward to this morning, and news breaks that four other Bruins have been added to the COVID-19 protocol list. Those players are Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, David Pastrnak, and Craig Smith. All players that really hurt to lose, but that’s beside the point. As a result, their next two games, which were tomorrow in Buffalo and Tuesday at home (which was also supposed to be the first one with fans in attendance), have been postponed. Warrior Ice Arena has also been closed down until further notice.
The Bruins are hoping, pending further test results, to be able to return to Warrior on Wednesday. If they can, Thursday’s game will go on as scheduled. However, if there are any more positive tests, expect more postponements.
This Can Likely Be Traced Back to the Rangers
One of my first thoughts was how did this happen. The Bruins had made it two months with practically no issues with COVID. They were even fine when much of the rest of the league was getting slammed by it. Plus, since then, the league has put stricter protocols in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-10, and so far they’ve worked quite well. So, it was very surprising to me that there would be an outbreak now when the league is seeing so few cases and the country as a whole is seeing the number decline rapidly. However, then I saw this tweet from a fan, and now it makes sense:
The Rangers had several people enter protocol shortly after our last game with them and based on the timeframe, they may be where this came from.
— Jill Murphy (@jmurphx11) March 19, 2021
The morning after the Bruins last played the Rangers, they had several players, and in the following days their entire coaching staff, added to the COVID-19 protocol list. Therefore, it seems rather likely that the Bruins picked it up from them despite everyone testing negative that night. There has been evidence of some on-ice transmission in the past. So, it’s well within the realm of possibility that it happened again.
To be clear, I’m not saying this to blame anybody. Everyone tested negative the night of the game, so there was no way this could’ve been prevented if it is in fact the cause. I’m merely including this here in case anyone was like me and wondering what could’ve happened, as the team had handled things so well in the past. But, more importantly I bring it up because it leads me to my next point.
Tell Me, Why Was Last Night’s Game Played?
There was no reason for the game to be played last night. I don’t care that they thought it was another false positive and that everyone else tested negative. Given what I just mentioned above, they should’ve exercised a lot more caution and not just assumed it was another false positive. The Bruins had played a team that’s experiencing a similar outbreak less than a week prior. They know there has been on-ice transmission in the past. Granted, there hasn’t been much, but there has been some, and that should be enough to make them take it more seriously. It’s not like when Coyle and DeBrusk were held out. They hadn’t recently played a team that was dealing with COVID-19.
Long story short, the NHL needed to err on the side of caution and assume Kuraly actually had it given the circumstances, and they didn’t. They have to be better than that, and they had been lately, so it’s inexplicable to me that they weren’t. There’s simply no excuse for it.
As a result of these postponements, the Bruins are faced with playing 28 games in the final 45 days of the regular-season. That’s an average of one game every 38 hours. That’s a lot of hockey in a very short period of time. Hopefully, the Bruins can get healthy soon and stay that way, because that’s a tough test for any team, but especially one as banged up as the Bruins are right now.
Obviously, that isn’t the most important thing right now though. That would be the health and safety of the players. Hopefully, no more positive tests pop up. The team seems fairly optimistic that that’ll be the case, but obviously it’s hard to say. As for the players who are currently on the protocol lists, I sincerely hope they’re all ok and only experience very mild symptoms if any. There have been a couple of players who’ve had a really rough time with it, so hopefully that’s not the case here. Again, the health and safety of everyone involved is of the upmost importance.
-Lydia Muray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images.
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