The Washington Capitals have been fined $100,000 by the NHL for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
In a statement released Wednesday, the NHL revealed the Capitals broke rules “which involved social interactions among team members who were in close contact and not wearing face coverings.”
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 20, 2021
Washington has played all four of its scheduled games thus far, and at the time of this filing, are still scheduled to play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.
Four members of the Washington Capitals now appear on the NHL’s COVID-19 list of unavailable players:
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Samsonov.
— Joshua Clipperton (@JClipperton_CP) January 21, 2021
Ovechkin appeared to take responsibility for the team’s outbreak, in a statement released via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
Alex Ovechkin statement on #caps breaking the NHL's COVID protocols: "I regret my choice to spend time together with my teammates in our hotel room and away from the locker room areas. I will learn from this experience."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 21, 2021
The team also released the following statement via Samantha Pell of The Washington Post:
Statement from the Washington Capitals: pic.twitter.com/xfrbpT44mM
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) January 21, 2021
The NHL agreed to a 56-game schedule for 2021 in absence of a bubble, which worked successfully last summer as the league didn’t record a single positive test while completing the 2019-20 playoffs. In part due to government restrictions, the league adjusted its divisional format, notably sending all Canadian clubs to play against each other, as teams will only face their divisional counterparts during the regular season.
To little surprise, it hasn’t worked well through the opening week. The defending Stanley Cup finalist Dallas Stars have yet to begin their season after a COVID-19 outbreak led to 17 positive tests, causing their first four games to be rescheduled. Dallas will begin its season on Jan. 22 against the Nashville Predators.
It’s not just the Stars, however. After five players tested positive for COVID-19, the Carolina Hurricanes postponed at least two games, while Tuesday’s game between the Hurricanes and Nashville Predators was previously moved.
Simply, the league will almost certainly continue to face COVID-19 cases if it doesn’t adhere to a bubble.
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