While things are mostly back to normal in terms of the schedule and divisional alignment this season, there are some things that haven’t changed. One of those is the continual risk of players being forced to miss practices and games due to COVID protocols. Last year we saw a daily COVID Protocol Related Absences list, which at times grew to dozens and dozens of players. This season may not be as rampant, but already some are missing training time due to league rules.
Today, Mike Hardman and Kevin Lankinen have been ruled out of Chicago Blackhawks’ practice due to the protocol. Both players were present yesterday. As a reminder, being in the COVID protocol does not necessarily mean a player has tested positive for Coronavirus. Included in the NHL’s list of possible reasons:
(1) an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until confirmatory testing is completed pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (2) mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (3) required quarantine as a high-risk close contact in accordance with the Positive Test Protocol; (4) isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or; (5) quarantine for travel or other reasons as outlined in the COVID-19 Protocol
Missing a few days at the beginning of camp is not going to derail the Blackhawks’ season, but this is an important reminder that the NHL is not completely back to normal. For Chicago in particular, Lankinen has been replaced by Collin Delia in the first practice group according to Scott Powers of The Athletic. It is unclear how long each player will be held out for.