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SJHN Daily: NHL Will Only Test Symptomatic COVID Cases, Kane Investigation Finishing Soon?



Credit: San Jose Barracuda


The NHL and NHLPA are closing in on an agreement that will modify the pre-existing COVID protocols to allow for less testing for asymptomatic players and staff, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. 

The changes come after a season that has been upended by team-wide shutdowns, over 100 game postponements, and the NHL pulling out of the Olympics, all due to COVID. 

It’s not the first time this 2021/22 season that the NHL and NHLPA have jointly agreed to modify the COVID protocol, as in December, vaccinated players and staff were able to ‘test out’ after only five days in quarantine. 

The changes to the COVID protocol include that asymptomatic players and staff will be tested only in accordance with cross-border travel requirements, and if they become symptomatic, in which case they will have to enter COVID protocol if positive.

It’s not surprising that the NHL and NHLPA are interested in modifying COVID protocol in order to shorten the process for teams who have struggled when top-line players are locked in isolation and hopefully avoid even more game postponements. The constant testing for players in staff can be a stressful experience that has the possibility to disrupt team chemistry or momentum; not knowing who will be available to play every night, especially during a surge can make the mood in the locker room plummet. 

Ahead of the Jan 11 game against the Detroit Red Wings at home, head coach Bob Boughner spoke about where the San Jose Sharks and the NHL are at with COVID protocol, saying; 

“No hiding that [it’ll be easier to have fewer tests going forward]. We still have a few guys that haven’t got [COVID] yet — and who knows, knock on wood they don’t — but yeah, you get guys that hopefully have a little bit of I guess ‘herd immunity’ in our room. And the other fact is that they don’t have to test. They’ve still got to follow other protocols and masking and making sure that no one has symptoms and all the other things that we’re under, but [less testing] definitely helps.”

In late December, captain Logan Couture expressed his own opinions on the possibilities of the NHL and NHLPA modifying the rules for asymptomatic players in COVID protocol. “My opinion would be yes [for targeted testing], but I think the Canadian government has last call on that. As far as I know, they’re the ones that hold the power with teams crossing the border and all that.”

Despite the fact that it may be easier on teams to reduce testing asymptomatic players and staff, it does present some concerns. Taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is key to protecting ourselves, the people around us, and yes – ‘getting back to normal’, like wearing a mask correctly, washing your hands, and testing for COVID-19. Testing allows for healthcare professionals to identify who, and how many people may need medical care for COVID in a specific time frame. And, once someone has tested positive, they can reduce the chances that they will infect other people by isolating accordingly. 

Just because one person is asymptomatic doesn’t mean that the next person they will come in contact with will be asymptomatic too, and for those who are regularly around these players, whether it be their family, friends, staff, or media, and are not able-bodied and/or are immuno-compromised in some way, the lack of testing can be a huge problem. 

The NHL is not the first men’s professional league to adopt this model; the NFL and NBA have previously chosen not to test asymptomatic players and personnel. 

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In Other Sharks News …

The NHL’s investigation into Evander Kane’s most recent COVID violation is set to conclude mid-week?

The San Jose Sharks’ postponed games were Dec. 21 versus Vancouver, Dec. 23 versus Edmonton, and Dec. 27 at Anaheim:

San Jose Sharks players’ data visualizations, stylized as hockey cards. (The Athletic)

Ryan Merkley has impressed the coaching staff. (Mercury News)

Former San Jose Sharks winger Ryan Donato wore one of Colby Cave’s game-day ties, then went out and scored a goal and earned first star of the game. (Fear the Fin)

Around the NHL …

“Vegas Hockey Hotline” host Brian Blessing remembered for his passion for life. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Fans select Stamkos, Kadri, Zibanejad, and Terry as 2022 NHL All-Star Last Men In. (NHL)

The Canadiens have hired Kent Hughes as GM. (Eyes on the Prize)

The PHF announces a $25 million investment — the largest investment in women’s hockey history. (PHF)

How NHL players have been inspired by Willie O’Ree. (ESPN)

Team USA announces the men’s ice hockey team for Beijing 2022. (Olympics)

Stars determined to trade Klingberg, Boston Bruins interested:

Stars Determined To Trade Klingberg, Bruins Interested

The Pittsburgh Penguins effect — Carter eyeing more years for his career:

The Penguins Effect: Carter Eyeing More Years In His Career (+)

Detroit Red Wings juggle top six to revitalize goal-scoring

Line Juggling Brings More Balance to Red Wings Top Six

Top 5 Vancouver Canucks making a positive impact this season: 

Top-5 Vancouver Canucks Most Pleasant Surprises

Calgary Flames need to find their winning identity again. 

Flames need to work way back to winning, and fun

Carey Price to restart rehab on knee before return to Montreal Canadiens

Price Starting Over In Return To Play Protocol, Canadiens Roster Updates

From the Colorado Avalanche to the Central Division, Bednar is set to coach at the NHL All-Star game:

Jared Bednar to coach Central Division NHL All-Star Team

Eichel joins the Vegas Golden Knights for morning skate:

He’s Here: Jack Eichel Joins the Vegas Golden Knights Morning Skate

Duclair and the Florida Panthers show support for #TapeOutHate initiative:

Florida Panthers, Anthony Duclair support #TapeOutHate movement

Sorokin proves himself a capable starter for the New York Islanders:

Sorokin Steals Show, Is He Still The No. 1 Netminder?


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