Ryan Carpenter, Erik Gustafsson and Patrick Kane were placed in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol, the Blackhawks announced Saturday morning. They did not practice with the team and their statuses are up in the air for Sunday's game against the Detroit Red Wings.
COVID-19 protocol-related absences can be the result of a number of factors, including an initial positive test that remains unconfirmed, symptomatic individuals, high-risk close contact, or a confirmed positive test, among others.
"At this point, those guys are in the protocol and we don’t really know day to day how it’s going to develop," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "For the most part, it’s out of our control, so we’ll adjust as things develop here."
Carpenter, Gustafsson and Kane each played in Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Kane celebrated his 1,000th NHL game beforehand, waiting to do so in front of a sold-out United Center crowd.
In a corresponding move, the Blackhawks recalled forward Reese Johnson from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. He skated on the fourth line with MacKenzie Entwistle and Jujhar Khaira; Philipp Kurashev rotated in and out as well.
The Blackhawks also shuffled the other three lines and are preparing as if they won't have any of the three sidelined players on Sunday.
Kirby Dach, Alex DeBrincat and Brandon Hagel skated together on the first line, Tyler Johnson, Dominik Kubalik and Jonathan Toews made up the second line and Henrik Borgstrom, Adam Gaudette and Dylan Strome were together on the third line. Kubalik also took Kane's spot on the first power-play unit.
The absences come at an inopportune time as the Blackhawks are one of three NHL teams still searching for their first win of the season.