Flames game versus Canadiens going ahead despite positive COVID test

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CALGARY — The Montreal Canadiens were ready to play the Calgary Flames on Friday evening despite a Calgary player testing positive for COVID-19.

The Flames called off their morning skate. The club said in a statement the player was in isolation and other players and staff members had tested negative for the coronavirus.

The club said in a later statement the game would go ahead.

The player was later identified as forward Josh Leivo, who was on the NHL's updated COVID protocol list released 5 p.m. ET Friday.

"We trust that the league is going to make a judgment call that's best for both teams and the league," Canadiens forward Paul Byron said Friday morning. "We're prepared to play a hockey game tonight.

"I think we trust they'll make the right decision here. They have more information than we do. They shut our team down for a week and we only had one positive case."

The Canadiens are familiar with disruption of games because of the pandemic.

Four of their games in March were rearranged because one Hab tested positive for a variant and another player was a close contact.

"We're getting ready for the game and the league has been doing a tremendous job at managing cases like this," Montreal head coach Dominique Ducharme said.

"We're ready to go and we trust everything is under control. If not, they're going to tell us."

Friday's game was the first of three in four days between Calgary and Montreal. The second is scheduled for Saturday and the third Monday at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Canadiens held down the fourth and final playoff berth in the North Division with the Flames eight points back.

Calgary's situation came a few days after the Vancouver Canucks started playing again following an outbreak and prolonged layoff.

Twenty-one players and four members of the coaching staff were affected.

COVID-19 has forced the rescheduling of 52 NHL games so far this season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press