UPDATE: For some context as to why the league took the Capitals’ violation so seriously, just look at the caliber of the players at fault. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Alex Ovechkin, and Ilya Samsonov appeared on the NHL’s COVID Protocol Related Absences list today, implying that the group including the captain and starting goalie were the perpetrators of the COVID violation.
The Capitals have released a statement lamenting the actions of their players. Ovechkin himself also released a statement of regret that he and his teammates socialized in their hotel room rather than in approved locker room areas.
The NHL is not fooling around when it comes to protecting its players and staff as well as its 2020-21 season from the Coronavirus pandemic. The league has announced this evening that the Washington Capitals have been fined $100K for violations of the NHL COVID-19 Protocols. The Capitals are the first team to face discipline related to the league’s COVID policies.
As might be expected, the perpetrators in this case were the Washington players. The league reports that the Capitals were cited for “social interaction among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings.” While the players obviously interact with one another on the ice and on the bench during games and practices, the league has asked that all additional exposure be limited – a request that the Capitals did not adhere to.
Especially in a season in which revenue will be slashed considerably due to the lack of fans in the stands, a $100K fine is no small thing for owner Ted Leonsis and his team. The NHL has made an example of the Capitals to show that there will not be any leniency, even for a first offense, when it comes to COVID protocol. The hope is that this message comes through clearly around the league as the NHL hopes to get through the current season without issue in the midst of an ongoing public health crisis.