The NHL and NHLPA have officially announced changes to their COVID-19 protocol, which will go into effect for each club following their final game before the All-Star Break.
Per the new protocol, the league will remove “enhanced measures” and revert back to the start-of-season protocol. Meanwhile, there will be no more need to test daily if players are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic. There will still be “for-cause” testing if players are experiencing symptoms.
In addition, the NHL is removing the requirement to test close contacts. They are also updating requirements for in-arena family spaces, game presentation and on-ice ceremonies.
Teams must still abide by the local, state/provincial and federal health authorities.
The league has had to postpone several games this season amid COVID-19 when the season paused amid a major spike in cases. Several Capitals and players across the league tested positive, however, many were asymptomatic.
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For the Washington Capitals, 18 players have had run-ins with the virus. Most recently, Michal Kempny entered COVID-19 protocol on Friday and has been unavailable. Before that, John Carlson and Conor Sheary were on protocol in January, along with Dmitry Orlov.
“It’s one of those things, everyone’s going to get it and you’re missing games but feeling really good,” Hagelin said of the protocol earlier in January. “In a normal year, you’ll play every game, even though you feel terrible some games.”
Orlov had added that the protocol was frustrating, especially having experienced no symptoms.
“Sucks to don’t have symptoms,” Orlov said. “It’s like you sick, we understand. But when you don’t have anything it’s just frustrating. It’s kind of just the norm and I think a lot of people in the league feel the same way. I think tough to figure out, you know? People with terrible flu in locker rooms without the masks and fever and still playing. And right now, it’s tough. You can complain about everything but it is what it is.”
Washington’s final game before the All-Star break will be on Wednesday against Edmonton. After that, the Capitals, with the exception of All-Stars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, will have a six-day break before taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 8. The team is fully vaccinated.