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What Could Barracuda COVID-19 Cancellation Mean for Sharks?




Another San Jose/Vegas game has been derailed by COVID-19.

This time, it was tonight’s San Jose Barracuda vs. Henderson Silver Knights AHL exhibition game at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The Barracuda also played the Silver Knights at Orleans Arena yesterday.

After the second intermission, Silver Knights up 1-0, both teams came out for the third period, but were then sent back to their respective locker rooms.

Per the Henderson Silver Knights: “In accordance with the AHL and President Scott Howson, Saturday night’s exhibition game between the Henderson Silver Knights and San Jose Barracuda was cancelled in between the second and third period due to COVID-19 protocols.

“Please note, this cancellation was not due to a positive COVID test result from Silver Knights players or staff.”

There is an unconfirmed report that the positive test originated from a San Jose Barracuda player, but San Jose Hockey Now has been unable to confirm this at this time.

The implications of that, however, could be staggering for the San Jose Sharks. Yesterday, the Sharks’ Feb. 1 and 3 games against the Vegas Golden Knights, scheduled to be played at Gila River Arena, were postponed because Alex Pietrangelo and three Golden Knights coaches had been placed in the league’s COVID protocol.

The Road Trip Is Over: Feb. 1 and 3 Games Postponed, Sharks Return Home Tomorrow

Because of that, and the Sharks’ next game being Feb. 5, the organization sent a number of players down to the Barracuda, presumably to play in tonight and Feb. 1’s Barracuda exhibition games.

Rudolfs Balcers, John Leonard, Fredrik Handemark, Jake Middleton, Jeffrey Viel, Brinson Pasichnuk, Nicolas Meloche, Alexei Melnichuk, and Joel Kellman were sent down, with the assumption that at least some of these players would be recalled to the San Jose Sharks’ 23-man-roster or taxi squad in short order. Leonard, Handemark, Middleton, and Meloche, have all appeared in NHL games this season.

These were the Barracuda line-ups over the last two nights:

Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks are currently three men short of a full 23-man-roster and two skaters short of a full taxi squad. Of particular note, they have just six defensemen between the Sharks’ 23-man-roster and taxi squad right now: Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Radim Simek, Mario Ferraro, and Nikolai Knyzhov.

According to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, this is the procedure for asymptomatic players with an initial positive test:

  • The positive player will be isolated and contact tracing begins.
  • 24 hours later, the positive player will have a confirmatory test. If that test is negative, a second test will follow 24 hours later. If that second test is negative, a third confirmatory test will follow 24 hours later. If any of these tests return a positive, the player will remain isolated and contact tracing will continue.
  • If all three confirmatory tests come back negative, the player will be allowed to re-join the team. Contacts will also be released from isolation.

The AHL doesn’t have a publicly-available policy for the re-testing of a player after an initial positive.

While relief from COVID-19, in the form of global vaccination, is imminent, tonight’s cancellation is a reminder that the pandemic is still very much present in our lives. And nobody, even the finest athletes, are completely immune from its ravages:

The Barracuda’s next game is Feb. 1 in Tucson and their regular season begins on Feb. 5 in Tucson. At this time, these games have yet to be canceled or postponed.

UPDATE: The San Jose Barracuda have confirmed that it was indeed one of their players who tested positive; they’ve cancelled the Feb. 1 exhibition game in Tucson.

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