Dec 15: The Florida Panthers have now had a COVID outbreak of their own. The team has announced that five players and one staff member have entered the league’s COVID protocols and will be unavailable for tomorrow’s game. Sam Bennett, Radko Gudas, Ryan Lomberg, Brandon Montour, and Carter Verhaeghe won’t play against the Los Angeles Kings. Lomberg had been previously mentioned by the team, but these four new members are obviously huge absences from the Panthers’ lineup.
Notably, Bennett, Verhaeghe, Gudas, and Montour all played last night for the Panthers, with the latter logging over 21 minutes. With evidence of in-game transmission mounting, thanks to outbreaks across the league, the Ottawa Senators will have to be on high alert moving forward. The league has instituted increased protocols today limiting teammate interaction on the road, while the Senators will be returning home on Sunday to a province that has just instituted a 50 percent capacity limit on large sporting events. Ottawa of course has already dealt with widespread COVID issues earlier this season as one of the teams that saw games postponed.
For Florida, not only will these players be unavailable for tomorrow’s game against the Kings, but if they have tested positive and are experiencing any symptoms, they will be unable to accompany them on the upcoming road trip. Florida is scheduled to play Minnesota on Saturday afternoon before heading to Chicago. They’re meant to wrap up the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule at home against the Nashville Predators on Dec 23, a date that would still leave these players ineligible if they are forced to quarantine for a minimum of ten days.