Rod Brind'Amour lamented Carolina's season coming to a screeching halt despite doing “a great job” adhering to pandemic protocols. For Peter Laviolette, his Washington Capitals will keep playing for the next week without four prominent players who broke the rules.
Each team is getting punished in a different way after being affected by the virus. The Hurricanes had games postponed through at least Saturday and won't get to practice in person with a handful of players on the COVID-19 list.
There's no indication the Capitals are being shut down, though they will have to play the next four games without captain Alex Ovechkin, No. 1 center Evgeny Kuznetsov, top-four defenseman Dmitry Orlov and starting goaltender Ilya Samsonov.
The NHL fined the Capitals $100,000 for breaking protocol by having those four players in a hotel room with none of them wearing a mask. Laviolette said there was a positive test result, which led to contact tracing, and Washington will be forced to play a patchwork lineup for its home opener tonight against Buffalo.
There's no hard and fast timeframe for how long a player who tests positive or has potential exposure must be out. The NHL defers to local authorities, and the minimum four games for the Capitals players relates to the District of Columbia's quarantine regulations.
After Ovechkin expressed regret for the mistake that will cost him and his fellow Russians two games against the Sabres and two against the New York Islanders, teammates said Thursday the protocols were spelled out for them before the season.
“It's not a situation we want to be in, but here we are,” center Nicklas Backstrom said. “We're a tight group. Every time we're on the road, we see a chance to really connect as a group, but obviously it's a violation.”