The Capitals expect to be without Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov for the next four games due to NHL health and safety protocols, head coach Peter Laviolette said Thursday. An official announcement is expected to be made by the NHL.
Those four players were added to the NHL's COVID-19 protocol-related absence list on Wednesday after it was determined they were in a hotel room together during the team's recent road trip.
"Right now the players are in quarantine and, at this point, I believe it's four games and then under review and so we'll go from there," head coach Peter Laviolette said. "There'll probably be an announcement at some point, but I believe we're looking at that and we'll look at everything."
A player does not have to test positive to be on the league's COVID absence list and there is no minimum amount of time they have to be on it. Taking the players out for four games for being in close proximity with each other while also allowing them to sit on a bench together and play hockey may seem harsh. The issue, however, is that there was a positive case, though it is unclear where that positive case may have come from.
"I know that there was a positive case and, through their tracing and their tracking, the players were honest with what they did," Laviolette said. "I don't know the exact chain myself of how things happened, but there was a determination that there were four players that were close contacts and from there they now have to quarantine."
When asked to clarify if this meant one of those four players tested positive, Laviolette said, "No. The four players are under protocol for COVID and so, because of that, they have to quarantine at this point."
Regardless of whether it was one of the players or not, the Caps will not be without four key players for four games. That will take them out of Friday's home-opener against Buffalo, Sunday's rematch and then both home games against the New York Islanders on Jan. 26 and 28 before they can be reevaluated. The good news is that their next game after Jan. 28 is also a home game so it is not a case in which the players will be left at home and have to meet the team once they are cleared to play.
The next game the players will be eligible to play will be Jan. 30 against Boston.