The Washington Capitals found themselves in big trouble today. Earlier this evening, the NHL announced that they have fined the Capitals $100,000 for player violations of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. These violations “involved social interactions among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings”. Shortly after this announcement, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Alex Ovechkin (!!!), and Ilya Samsonov were added to the league’s COVID-19-related absence list. The Capitals and Ovechkin have since released statements regarding this news, which you can find below.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 21, 2021
This is a horrible look all-around for the Capitals. But, it’s especially bad given who the violating players were. We aren’t talking about some fourth-liners here. No, we’re talking about the team captain, who just so happens to be the Capitals best player and one of the most well-known players in the world, their starting goaltender, one of their best centers, and one of their best defensemen. Yikes. Even though it was the players who made the decision to do this and it had nothing to do with the team, it’s still a bad look for the organization, particularly because their captain was one of the ones involved. So, I reiterate: yikes.
No, This Was Not Unreasonable
I’ve seen a lot of fans who say this is too much given they’re on the ice and bench without masks on, as well as some less-intelligent comments about the virus not being a big deal. I’ve also seen some people say this is way too harsh and not fair to the players. But, they all agreed to abide by these protocols. They could’ve opted out if they didn’t like it. Plus, it’s not like the league is saying they can’t hang out with each other. Every team is provided with a lounge in the hotels for the players to hang out in, with masks of course. So, there’s no reason they need to be in a hotel room, especially maskless. None.
As for the fact that they’re on the bench maskless so they should be able to hang out maskless if they choose, they’re never sitting next to each other for 15 minutes, which is the minimum amount of time you need to be near someone to be considered a close contact. Plus, just because they’re maskless and in close contact at some points doesn’t mean they should be all the time. The less they’re together like that, the better the chances that COVID doesn’t spread. The protocols are there for a reason. This was an incredibly stupid move by these players, and the league responded accordingly.
The NHL’s Message Is Clear: Follow Protocols or Pay
As you can probably tell by now, I’m extremely happy to see the league do this. The NHL has handled COVID exceptionally well so far this season because they’re taking it very seriously. By slapping the Capitals with this big of a fine for a first violation, they sent a very clear message to every team. They need to follow the protocols at all times or they will face consequences. They also sent a very clear message to the players that no one is above this, because if Alex Ovechkin can’t get away with it, no one can. So, this is what they needed to do.
Hopefully, no positive tests come as a result of this. I don’t think they will, since they were just hanging out in their hotel room. So, one of them would’ve had to have already had it for it to spread. The chances of that aren’t great. However, if for some reason at least one of these guys tests positive, expect more punishments to follow to both the team and the individual players. The NHL is not messing around with their protocols, and I know I’m not alone in saying it’s great to see. It gives me a lot of hope that this season will be played out in full and without many, if any, massive outbreaks unlike what we’ve seen in other leagues.
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of @NHL/Twitter.