1:40pm: Samantha Pell of the Washington Post reports that Samsonov tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday night. It triggered a contact tracing probe, which confirmed that the four Russian players spent time together in a Pittsburgh hotel room where they “watched sports and played video games.” According to Pell, the NHL is not expected to postpone Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
12:25pm: The four Washington Capitals players that were placed on the COVID Protocol Related Absences list yesterday, Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Samsonov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov, are now in quarantine. All four are expected to miss at least the next four games, according to head coach Peter Laviolette, who spoke with reporters including Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press. Laviolette also explained that there was a positive virus case among the Capitals players, which led to contact tracing. The team was also fined $100,000 for the protocol breach yesterday.
Though there will be plenty of debate over how the players were punished for gathering in a hotel room, the fact is the Capitals will now have to navigate the next part of the schedule without several key players. The team is set to welcome in the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders for two games each over the next week, all matches expected to take place without the foursome. That certainly puts a lot of pressure on someone like Vitek Vanecek, the team’s backup goaltender, who has just two NHL appearances under his belt. Craig Anderson has been recalled from the taxi squad to join him in net for the time being.
Yesterday, Ovechkin released an apology that read:
I regret my choice to spend time together with my teammates in our hotel room and away from the locker room areas. I will learn from this experience.
To be clear, it has not been revealed who (if any) on the team tested positive. The four players were added to the CPRA list and will be unable to practice with the team until they are cleared by the league’s protocols.