Washington Capitals players Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Samsonov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 list Wednesday night and new details are emerging about the case.
According to Washington head coach Peter Laviolette, the four players will miss the next four games.
The NHL also fined the Capitals organization $100,000 for violating league protocols.
“We totally understand why the rules are in place and there’s no arguing with that,” Laviolette said Thursday. “We want to be compliant. We made a mistake and we need to do a better job.”
The league says the fine came about after contract tracing found a positive COVID-19 test, which revealed that the aforementioned four players were together in a hotel room.
NHL protocols state, “Each member of the Club’s Travelling Party will be required to stay in a single occupancy room, and no individual shall permit guests or other personnel in their room (with the exception of housekeeping or engineering staff, as needed, which services shall be provided while individuals are not present in the room).”
The NHL’s protocols do demarcate a space for a “dedicated common area or lounge” for exclusive player use. This goal behind this space is that it is of “sufficient size” to allow for proper social distancing and following of protocols. Had the Capitals’ quartet used this space, they would have avoided the fine.
Washington stated it was “disappointed by our players’ choice to interact in their hotel room and outside of team approved areas.”
As is typical, there was chatter on social media about players being close together on the bench or in other common areas.
But for the league not to err on the side of caution, even if it does seem excessive in some circles, would be unwise. They’ve already shut down two clubs due to COVID-19 spread and shouldn’t take any chances. It wouldn’t reflect well on the NHL if they were benefiting from quarantine rules in some localities and not stressing the importance of following the rules in others.
And honestly, most people get it.
“I regret my choice to spend time together with my teammates in our hotel room and away from the locker room areas,” Ovechkin said. “I will learn from this experience.”