In his season-opening news conference in January, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear the league would evaluate each COVID-related incident individually before deciding on a course of action.
“We’re going to have to be in a position to understand and address situations as they occur,” he said. “Having a series of just hard-and-fast rules in this environment I’m pretty sure is not going to be the best approach.”
That should help to explain the recent ambiguity surrounding the Golden Knights, whose season remained halted Sunday while the league takes additional time to analyze test results and plot a course of action.
But there could be some clarity soon, as multiple people familiar with the situation confirmed to the Review-Journal on Sunday the hope is the team can return to practice Wednesday and host the Los Angeles Kings on Friday at T-Mobile Arena.
General manager Kelly McCrimmon is expected to address the situation Monday.
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was the lone player from the Knights listed Sunday on the NHL’s COVID protocol-related absences, the third straight day no new players appeared.
The league said previously that three coaches also are being isolated in connection with the league’s COVID protocol, and the team’s facility at City National Arena remains closed.
In addition, a spokesperson for the organization said there was no change to the status of the Silver Knights after Saturday’s American Hockey League exhibition game against San Jose was canceled before the start of the third period.
San Jose announced Sunday that it was informed during the game a Barracuda player tested positive for COVID-19, and the game was halted in accordance with the AHL’s health and safety protocols.
The situation was reminiscent of last year’s World Series when Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was pulled from Game 6 before the start of the eighth inning because of a positive test for COVID-19.
In that situation, Turner’s test from the day before came back inconclusive during the game, and his test from that morning was confirmed positive.
The San Jose organization did not release the name of the player who tested positive for the Barracuda. Eight players were assigned to the AHL by the parent Sharks on Friday, and another player was sent down on a conditioning assignment. No San Jose Sharks players appeared on the NHL’s list of COVID absences Sunday.
The Silver Knights are scheduled to open the AHL season against Ontario on Saturday at Orleans Arena.
The Golden Knights haven’t played since a 5-4 home shootout loss to St. Louis on Tuesday when McCrimmon was behind the bench along with Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros and his staff.
Thursday’s series finale against St. Louis was postponed after Pietrangelo and a coach entered COVID protocols. The two-game series against San Jose that was scheduled to start Monday at Glendale, Arizona, also was postponed.
Meanwhile, other teams continue to play on despite having players added to the NHL’s COVID protocols, only adding to the confusion surrounding the Knights’ situation.
For instance, Chicago hosted Columbus on Sunday despite having five players on the COVID list, including two who were added Saturday.
“We have to be ready to adjust and adapt to anything that may happen,” Bettman said in January. “We’re going to have to make some judgments in real time, which I think we’ve demonstrated an ability to do credibly and with integrity for the game.”