Might as well post yesterday’s highlights again since it’s the last Devils highlights we’re getting for a few days at least. Because just as I feared after the positive tests (excuse me, COVID list additions) of Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac this weekend, the other shoe dropped today with four new additions to the COVID list – Pavel Zacha, Andreas Johnsson, Michael McLeod and Janne Kuokkanen. As a result, the Devils’ next three games have all been postponed indefinitely and their season will be paused for at least the next week.
It’s not as if the Devils are the first team to get games canceled this year either. So far by my count, the Stars, Sharks and Vegas (at least) have all had to have pauses and we’re only three weeks into the season. That doesn’t even count the Capitals’ protocol violation fiasco that shelved a lot of their key players. For all we know the Devils might have had one too with the amount of cases that popped up instantaneously. God knows the league’s more interested in keeping as much secrecy around positive tests as possible than in having adequate protocols to play an indoor sport in the winter when cases are spiking around the country.
There’s no one person to blame here although clearly our outbreak started with Mackenzie Blackwood last week and has now extended to six other players in a three-day span. All in all ten players are now on the COVID list including the necessary quarantines. And we don’t know yet what, if any protocols were violated or if – as seems to be the case around the league – they just aren’t good enough right now to get through a complete NHL season.
You can blame who you want, blame the NHLPA for opposing stricter standards, the NHL for not enforcing them or individual players themselves although I hesitate to get into the shame game when we don’t know the circumstances around every flunked test. And one other point I almost forgot…we’re about to find out whether the virus can spread in-game between teams now because the Devils just played a back-to-back with the Sabres when four of our guys popped with positive tests right after. The league is gonna get some blowback for letting yesterday’s game even happen if it turns out the Sabres get a rash of positive tests because of it.
On a related note, shame on the Devils Twitter for making a snow day joke out of our first postponement tomorrow. COVID is no matter to be flip about, just ask Marco Rossi. Even if the first-round draft pick says he’s optimistic about his return next year, the fact a 19-year old has to miss a whole season due to the virus speaks volumes over how serious it can be even for world-class athletes. And just how little we know of the long-term effects.
I admit I was probably wrong myself that the NHL would be able to get through a full season citing the NFL’s ability to do so against the odds. Then again I was also wrong in my fatalism that the NFL and MLB wouldn’t be able to do so, which means I should stay out of the prediction game when it comes to this. If there is one silver lining right now (besides the fact we are still early enough in the season to be able to squeeze in postponements) it’s that all of our other quarantined and returning from injury players can hopefully get back by the time we’re able to resume practice again.