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NHL Changing COVID-19 Protocol, Won’t Test Asymptomatic Players After All-Star Break



Capital One Arena, home to the NHL's Capitals.

The NHL and NHLPA are changing the COVID-19 protocol and testing rules after the All-Star Weekend.

On Tuesday, the NHL and NHLPA are agreeing to no longer test asymptomatic players and staff. The only testing that would be required if this happens would be for cross-border travel and if there are symptoms present. The NHL All-Star Weekend goes from Feb. 2-4.

Back in December, the NHL saw multiple players test positive for COVID-19 amid the global rise in the Omicron variant. Not only did this lead to a number of absences, but more players on the COVID-19 protocol led to over 50 postponed games, a league-wide pause and the NHL choosing not to send its players to Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Lately, players around the league have been testing positive but have been asymptomatic, including Capitals Carl Hagelin and Dmitry Orlov. Both expressed their frustration with the circumstances, saying they felt fit to play but had to work out from home while missing time.

“I think I feel good. And it just kind of feel same thing when you come out from break, All-Star break or whatever, like when you don’t skate for five days because you don’t have any symptoms, you know… 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.”

“It’s one of those things, everyone’s going to get it and you’re missing games but feeling really good,” Hagelin added. “In a normal year, you’ll play every game, even though you feel terrible some games. That’s part of it, and you’re hoping they’ll change some of these rules going forward. I guess the good thing is there’s a lot of guys who’ve had it now.”

READ MORE ON WHN: Capitals Share Latest On Oshie, Mantha

Washington has had 19 players and staff enter COVID-19 protocol at one point or another this season. John Carlson, Conor Sheary and Blaine Forsythe are currently on protocol.

Four of Washington’s games this season have been postponed due to the virus. Per Friedman, schedule updates for making up those postponed games across the league will be coming out soon.