As the number grew for the Flyers on the league's COVID protocol list Friday night, a potential predicament grew in likelihood for the NHL.
At the very least, the situation feels like it's growing in concern and complexity with next weekend's outdoor games nearing.
Oskar Lindblom and Scott Laughton were added to the NHL's COVID protocol list Friday. The Flyers now have seven players listed as out because of COVID protocol. Jakub Voracek, Morgan Frost, Claude Giroux, Justin Braun and Travis Sanheim remained on the list, which is updated daily by the NHL around 5 p.m. ET.
There are a number of contributing factors for why a player can be placed on the COVID protocol list. A player being out because of COVID protocol does not necessarily mean the player tested positive for the coronavirus.
Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in December 2019 and completed his radiation treatments last July, when he was deemed without evidence of cancer. The 24-year-old native of Sweden has remained cancer-free, appearing in a pair of 2020 playoff games and playing all 13 of the club's regular-season games this year.
Per league protocols, all teams receive daily COVID-19 tests. If not on the road, the Flyers undergo their testing at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey. Beginning last Sunday, the Flyers have had new additions to the COVID protocol list each day aside from Monday and Wednesday. Voracek and Frost were added Thursday, while Giroux and Braun were added Tuesday. Sanheim has been sidelined since Sunday, when he missed the Flyers' 7-4 win over the Capitals for COVID protocol. Lindblom, Laughton, Voracek, Giroux and Braun played in the game and practiced Monday.
It's unknown how much Frost has been around the Flyers, if at all, recently. The 21-year-old center is on injured reserve and was set to undergo shoulder surgery last week at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.
Two days ago, the NHL identified Monday as the Flyers' appropriate return date for practice. The Flyers' next scheduled game is Thursday of next week against the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center. The team is then scheduled to travel to Stateline, Nevada, to play the Bruins on Feb. 21 in one of the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe games next weekend.
We'll have to wait and see if those plans stay in place or if the NHL is forced to audible again.
Over different days this week, the Flyers had games on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday all postponed because of COVID protocols. The Devils, who were originally slated to play the Flyers on Thursday and Saturday, had 18 players on Friday's COVID protocol list. New Jersey hasn't played since Jan. 31.
With the postponement of Sunday's Flyers-Rangers game, the league is clearly trying to provide as much time as possible for the Flyers' situation to improve and eventually settle ahead of the outdoor game.
Are further changes coming down the pike? Stay tuned.
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