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COVID-19 looms massive over sporting world as NHL goes darkish after Flames outbreak

Halfway by means of an NHL press launch no group desires to be part of got here a disturbing reminder of simply how slippery a slope the Calgary Flames could also be on proper now.

Saying six gamers and a coaching workers member had entered the league’s Covid-19 protocol, the Monday morning launch defined that a part of the choice to postpone their subsequent three video games was as a result of “probability of extra constructive circumstances within the coming days.”

Brace your self, not simply as a hockey fan, however as a human being who wonders day by day the place all that is going with the Omicron variant threatening to proceed canceling increasingly more issues in our lives.

Hours later, the NBA introduced an outbreak on the Bulls would postpone two of their video games.

It’s all too eerily acquainted.

Identical to that, the Andrew Mangiapane Olympic debate takes on a complete new look, because the NHL and its gamers have much more purpose to ponder scrapping discuss of attending the Beijing Video games.

With Mangiapane, Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Adam Ruzicka and Brad Richardson becoming a member of the checklist nobody desires to be on, there have now been 123 NHL gamers in Covid protocol this season, which is roughly 17 per cent.

4 of the Flames gamers in protocol are potential Olympians, making this newest setback for the league extra pertinent as officers huddle collectively to debate how constructive checks could be dealt with in China.

Flames GM Brad Treliving instructed Monday morning all his gamers are asymptomatic, which is the very best information potential.

“All asymptomatic at this level,” he mentioned. “I am all the time cautious saying that, as I have never spoken to them within the final couple hours. We’re testing households too. Wives, girlfriends, youngsters. We’re cautious with all them. It begins to spider net.

“The precedence proper now could be monitoring guys and ensuring they’re protected and wholesome. Identical goes for his or her households.”

Participant testing happens each three days this season, which suggests those that examined constructive on Sunday might have been contaminated for a number of days whereas carefully interacting with everybody on the group.

Transferring ahead, Flames gamers will likely be examined day-after-day, which means we might have extra dangerous information day by day.

The gamers are certain by league and native well being pointers, which requires isolation for many who examined constructive for no less than 10 days – longer should you nonetheless really feel sick.

For individuals who by no means develop signs, which is a really actual risk for in any other case wholesome athletes who’re double-vaccinated, the isolation interval ends a full ten days after their first constructive Covid-19 swab was taken.

Which means, on the very least, the Flames will likely be with out the companies of their main objective scorer, their greatest centre and prime defenceman till at the least Dec. 21 when they’re slated to host Anaheim.

That group may even miss Saturday’s sport towards Columbus, which is when they’re slated to return to enjoying.

For now.

The Flames have performed three groups this season that have been ravaged by constructive circumstances – San Jose, Ottawa and the New York Islanders.

The latter two have been shut down by the league shortly thereafter because the numbers grew into the double digits and have become untenable.

Calgary’s state of affairs is totally different in that each one the constructive checks got here directly, retaining the door vast open for extra dangerous information to comply with. The Flames constructive checks have been revealed piecemeal.

The primary three constructive outcomes got here within the wee hours of Sunday morning, prompting retesting for everybody upon arrival on the rink Sunday. Whereas ready for these outcomes the group loaded onto its chartered flight certain for Chicago, the place the group was to play Monday.

The airplane by no means took off, after hours of deliberations with group, NHL and medical officers who rightfully determined it wasn’t applicable to cross the border, given the ramifications of extra constructive checks being revealed in Illinois, the place contaminated gamers would have needed to quarantine for as much as two weeks.

Doubtlessly exposing each other on a airplane made no sense both, nor did trying to coordinate calling up six gamers en masse for a sport midway throughout the continent from the place the Flames’ affiliate resides in Stockton, Calif.

The group’s Saddledome facility was closed instantly and the gamers have been instructed to remain residence.

The subsequent scheduled occasion for the group is to apply Friday at Winsport.

We’ll see.

Monday’s sport in Chicago and Tuesday’s in Nashville will likely be rescheduled, as will Thursday’s residence date towards Toronto.

Don’t be stunned if Saturday’s sport is nixed, because it’s a tall order to ask a shorthanded group to play with simply in the future of apply beneath its belt.

“Proper now the league says video games are postponed by means of Thursday – we’ll see,” mentioned Treliving, who’s now anxiously awaiting take a look at outcomes of all his gamers taken Monday morning.

“I’m centered on this afternoon and the way it impacts tomorrow.

I’m wanting small image. As you widen the lens, you ask, ‘might we be working towards Friday?’ Who is aware of?”

And so, we cross our fingers and wait.

Immediately, a four-game dropping skid is the least of the group’s considerations.

The Flames sport was the one one scheduled for Monday, which means the NHL will go darkish.

How symbolic for a league going through the very actual risk it might need to bow out of the Olympic showcase followers and gamers have been craving since 2014 when NHLers have been final included.

Within the Flames group, there are 12 gamers who might probably be included on Olympic rosters, which suggests the potential of much more constructive checks over the approaching days in Calgary might proceed to ship a ripple impact by means of the five-ring dialogue.

The Worldwide Olympic Committee is predicted to unveil its gamers’ handbook as early as Monday, which might element how constructive checks are dealt with in Beijing.

It would present essential info for leaders like Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Alex Ovechkin who will play a giant function within the NHLPA’s participation determination, in mild of rising Omicron fears.

Gary Bettman wasn’t shy final week in questioning why gamers would nonetheless take into account going to the Video games if a constructive take a look at meant probably being caught in China for 3 to 5 weeks.

They is probably not contemplating it for much longer.

Each outbreak just like the Flames and Bulls are experiencing makes it increasingly more unlikely we’ll be returning to a normalcy that features NHLers on the Olympics this time round.

By no means thoughts that, the normalcy we crave in our personal lives appears a lot additional away too.

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