A Boston Bruins player has tested positive for COVID-19, but the particulars of the situation are, at the moment, promising.
The Bruins made the announcement Friday morning that an unidentified player had tested positive for the coronavirus. However, the player subsequently was tested twice more and both of those tests came back negative. Furthermore, the player has been and still is asymptomatic.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney spoke to the media Friday afternoon following the announcement, and though he, unsurprisingly, didn’t offer much in the way of details, he did shed a little light on the situation.
“We’re going to leave this pretty generic in terms of what the protocols in conjunction with both the league and our local government and health officials have set guidelines that we’re going to adhere to,” Sweeney said. “Subsequent testing for the original positive test is a requirement, and continued testing for that player, all of our players is also required. Quarantining is also a requirement, so those players that — both from a contact tracing as well as the original positive-testing player — have not used the facility, accessed to the facility, and they won’t be until they’re tested again next week.
For what it’s worth, the only players that have been confirmed to have skated at Warrior Ice Arena thus far are Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, so that removes them from consideration as the player that tested positive.
Here are some other notes from Sweeney’s conference call Friday:
— Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return to Play plan began Monday, which allows players to return to team facilities in small groups to skate. In part because coaches and management aren’t allowed to visit the facility and attend these workouts, Sweeney was mum on specifics as to who has been in attendance at Warrior over the last few days.
“We don’t have access right now to watching players, so we’re not monitoring the number of players that are on the ice,” Sweeney said. “I have a hard number of the players that are entering voluntarily, have entered Phase 2. … We have a lot of players that are in the area that are going to access the facility, and again some of the guys are still going through the protocol.”
— Also confirmed is the start date of Phase 3: July 10. At that point, training camp for teams that will be taking part in the 24-team tournament is set to begin.
The Bruins had been dealing with a few injuries leading up to the NHL’s pause, but when training camp begins, the entire roster, save for Kevan Miller, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season, is healthy and ready to go.
Said Sweeney: “All indications are at this point in time — and again, you’ll have to go through the protocols of testing guys when you do come back in, some players are traveling from abroad and there are quarantine mandates that have to be met — but at this point in time no indications that we (have any players) that wouldn’t be eligible outside of the obvious protocol.”
In the final game before the pause both Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo were absent. However, Carlo noted two months ago that he was nearing a green light to return to play from his concussion at the time things halted.
— The Bruins have a good chunk of players from Europe, and many were able to get back to their home countries once the season paused. That’s notable since some countries — such as Sweden, where Joakim Nordstrom, Anton Blidh and Par Lindholm are from — had loose regulations during the COVID outbreak.
As a result some players have had access to ice over the last few months.
“Yeah we have several players outside of North America — Anton, Nordy had been in Sweden, David Pastrnak is back in Czech Republic. Jakub Zboril and Daniel Vladar are two young players in Providence that we expect to be back with us pending the numbers, have been in the Czech Republic,” Sweeney said. “So we’ve got several players that are outside the country, several players that returned to Canada as well. And again, there’s been different levels of restrictions for each and every area. As we all know, Sweden has not necessarily closed down … So players have had access where other areas of the country and the world haven’t. So yeah, there have been some players that have had access to ice and training facilities.
— This isn’t a total surprise, but Don Sweeney said he hasn’t had contract talks with the team’s pending free agents.
Because of the abridged season, it’s unclear what the salary cap will look like for the 2020-21 campaign, so making a deal now wouldn’t be pragmatic for a team like the Bruins that, no matter what the figure is, likely will be tight against the cap.
“No, we’ve been in communication with all of our players,” Sweeney said. “We do a lot of internal planning, obviously the cap and where that goes is a bit of an unknown, we’re all predicting that it may stay flat, but we don’t have any confirmation in that regard. So we haven’t done anything concrete, but we’ve done some planning accordingly and some forecasting with our RFAs and the UFAs, but we have not put anything (on the table) at this point in time.”
The Bruins did take care of one piece of business last month, however, signing backup goalie Jaroslav Halak to a one-year contract that will keep him from hitting the open market this offseason.
— There’s been plenty of speculation about who the Bruins’ Black Aces might be for this postseason run, but what remains uncertain is roster size limits when games start back up.
“We have not been given a hard number. We’ve been given potential numbers within a range to include skaters and goalies,” Sweeney said. “You’re not going to be limited for Phase 3 as to the amount of people, anything other than what you’re comfortable with being inside your own bubble.”
Sweeney did say that the Bruins would carry more players on the roster than they otherwise would.