Capitals

KHL suffers coronavirus outbreak with 87 confirmed positive

Capitals

The Kontinental Hockey League has suffered a coronavirus outbreak with over 200 of its players either testing positive or recovering from the virus, according to KHL president Alexei Morozov.

In an interview with the KHL press office, Morozov said, "As of Wednesday evening, we have confirmed positive tests for 87 people, 132 others have recovered."

The Capitals currently have two prospects on loan to the KHL. Alexei Protas is playing for Dinamo Minsk and Alex Alexeyev is with Salavat Yulaev. Salavat Yulaev is one of the teams dealing with coronavirus with the head coach and two players testing positive.

"We know that both SKA and Salavat Yulaev have players and coaches who are ill," Morozov said.

A statement from the team released on Tuesday identifies the three individuals who have tested positive and Alexeyev is not among them. But the outbreak in the KHL is a major concern for the Caps and several other NHL teams that have loaned out prospects.

With the uncertainty surrounding hockey in North America during the pandemic and every other hockey league outside of the NHL on hold, teams began loaning out prospects to leagues in Europe so they would have a place to play until training camp. In addition to Protas and Alexeyev, Washington has also loaned out prospects Tobias Geisser and Damien Riat to the NLA in Switzerland and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby to the HockeyAllsvenskan in Sweden.

 

While some KHL games have been postponed, for the most part, the league is continuing play.

"You can see for yourself that this is a complicated situation," Morozov said. "But it is by no means out of our control. And here I would like to express my gratitude to our clubs and their directors, who have shown great understanding of the position we are in. Players are having to miss games, including some of our top stars. However, the teams keep playing, calling up juniors and reserve players. The league and the clubs are working to a single aim and when everyone understands the task at hand and does everything asked of them, we can overcome our shared difficulties."

While Morozov largely downplays the situation, the outbreak has to have NHL teams concerned about whether sending players overseas was the right call or if those prospects are now at risk from a league that does not seem to have a handle on the situation.

"Coronavirus is not a problem that only affects the KHL, it’s something that the whole world is trying to solve it," Morozov said. "More and more players in the league are recovering and gaining immunity, the situation in the league is getting better."