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The Colorado Avalanche confirmed Thursday night one of their players has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The unnamed member of the Avalanche is only the third player in the NHL to test positive for the novel coronavirus after the Ottawa Senators confirmed last Saturday they had a second player on the roster who was in self-isolation at home recovering from the illness that has been spreading worldwide.
With the NHL schedule on pause since March 12, the Avalanche indicated they received the result of the positive test Thursday. The Avs also noted that the player has fully recovered from the symptoms.
“The Colorado Avalanche were advised (Thursday) that a player has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” the Avs said in the statement. “The player has been at home in isolation since the first symptoms appeared, has recovered and is back to normal. The Avalanche have notified anyone who has had known close contact with the athlete.”
It’s no surprise another NHL player has tested positive for the virus because it was bound to happen and nobody will ever know where that person came in contact with it because, as we’ve learned over the course of the last couple of weeks, it can happen anywhere. It should be noted the Avalanche and Senators were both making trips through California just before the league was shut down.
The Senators, the first team to confirm a player had COVID-19 on March 17, faced the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on March 7 and then the Avalanche were in town the next night on March 8. Both of those games were played after health officials in Santa Clara County warned the Sharks there should be no large gatherings and indicated they may want to play in an empty arena or postpone the games.
The Sharks opted to go ahead that weekend with fans in the stands and indicated they were taking extra precautions with the cleaning of the building. The Avalanche then faced the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, March 9 at the Staples Center to wrap up their road trip while Ottawa was in Anaheim on March 10 and then closed out the schedule against the Kings before the league determined it needed to shut down.
The Senators indicated Saturday that eight of the 52 people aboard the club’s Air Canada Jetz charter had been tested for the virus by local health authorities. Only those that were showing symptoms were given the test and presumably some of those are still waiting for results because the Senators indicated in a statement on the weekend they’d confirm any further positive tests.
The Avalanche didn’t release the name of the player and, has been stated here in the past, that’s for privacy reasons. It’s up to the the players to decide if they want to come forward publicly. Colorado officials insist anybody who needs to know has been informed.
“The health and safety of our players, staff, fans and community remains our highest priority,” the Colorado statement stated. “The Avalanche organization will continue to work in conjunction with our medical staff and public health officials to do everything we can to help the Avalanche community remain safe and healthy during this time.”
This doesn’t mean every member of the Avalanche will undergo testing. The league stated Monday it only recommended testing for people who were showing symptoms.
“If a player exhibits symptoms or becomes sick and testing for COVID-19 is recommended by club medical staff, the player will be tested,” the league said. “We do not anticipate the need to conduct league-wide testing for all NHL players for COVID-19 prior to their returning to NHL club facilities.”
The players’ return to arenas to train may not happen any time soon.
All players were instructed by the league and the NHL Players’ Association to self-isolate at home for 14 days on March 13 in an email from deputy commissioner Bill Daly. During a conference call with the league’s general managers Tuesday afternoon, that period was extended until the end of the day on April 3.
League chief medical officer Dr. Willem Meeuwisse told NHL.com on Wednesday the situation is gong to worsen and it’s impossible to predict a timeline of when it will be safe to resume playing.
“It’s difficult to predict where the pandemic is going and what the timeline will be, but we do expect this is going to get worse before it gets better,” Meeuwisse said.
The NHL remains hopeful it will be able to complete the regular season schedule and award a Stanley Cup, but the league did postpone the draft set for June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, along with the scouting combine in Buffalo in the first week of June and the NHL Awards in Las Vegas June 18.
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