The NHL has confirmed 27 cases of COVID-19 during training camp. The news comes one sleep away from the start of the new season.
The league confirmed 12,000 tests administered to over 1,200 players from December 30, 2020, through January 11, 2021.
Positive tests are from nine teams, with 17 alone from the Dallas Stars. Most Stars that tested positive were asymptomatic and all are covering, free from complications.
The Stars practiced Tuesday following the Friday closure of their facility due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We had three really good days [of training camp],” head coach Rick Bowness said. “We were all very happy with the conditioning of the players and the progress we made. Then you take five days off, and those first couple of drills, the hands weren’t working as well as they had been.”
The Stars had practice last Wednesday, took an off day Thursday and called off practice Friday after the NHL’s revelation of six players and two staffers with positive COVID-19 tests. The facility was closed for several days for additional testing and contact tracing.
As per agreements, the NHL has not identified specific players diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Stars will open their regular season against the Lightning on January 19 at the earliest. The first three games of the season were postponed, with their next slated home game set for January 22 against the Nashville Predators.
Nothing, at this point, is concrete.
“We don’t know if we’re playing [January 19] or not,” Bowness said Tuesday. “That gives us six practices to [January 19], eight to [January 22]. So we’ve got a lot of work to do, it’s as simple as that, with the players we have, and we’re trying to cover things without jumping too quickly from one area to another. Today was a good day, especially after five days off the ice. The guys worked hard.”
The Stars saw the practice return of goalie Anton Khudobin Tuesday, so that was another sliver of good news. He missed the start of training camp due to immigration concerns. He had surgery in October and was diagnosed with COVID-19 while in Russia. He missed three weeks of training time and reported losing his sense of taste and smell for about a month and a half.
According to the Stars organization, all COVID-19 protocols are being followed.
“Listen, we did everything right last week, and we still got hit with this thing,” Bowness said. “So, you know, to sit here and say there’s a perfect way to do it, there’s not. You ask for discipline from your players when they leave the rink…but somehow this thing got into our room, and we’re dealing with it the best we can.”
Pic: Dallas News