The Buffalo Sabres have been dealing with an ever-growing number of players and their head coach entering the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol, which has forced the Sabres to postpone six games, but GM Kevyn Adams is hopeful that the club can come out of the ordeal and resume the season next week.
The Sabres shut down operations after a 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils on January 31 after learning that a Devils player that was in the lineup the previous day had begun to show symptoms.
Since then, 19 Devils players, nine Buffalo players (Taylor Hall, Jake McCabe, Brandon Montour, Tobias Rieder, Rasmus Ristolainen, Dylan Cozens, Curtis Lazar, Casey Mittelstadt, Rasmus Dahlin) and Buffalo head coach Ralph Krueger have entered the league’s COVID Protocol.
“Unfortunately we have a number of players and staff that are on the COVID protocol list. Some are symptomatic, some are asymptomatic.” Adams said in a video conference call on Tuesday. “Ralph is symptomatic. I’ve talked to him multiple times every day. I feel very comfortable that he’s being looked after from our doctors and trainers. We’ll have to see yet where we go from here as we get into next week, we certainly hope that Ralph’s asymptomatic and comes out of the protocols and he’s ready to go when we play our next game.”
Reports after the Devils games indicated that Sabres management was furious at the lack of communication from New Jersey and the NHL, but Adams indicated that there were discussions with the league and it was decided to play the games.
“I did have a conversation on Saturday before the game with (NHL Deputy Commissioner) Bill Daly and asked some questions around what the situation was with New Jersey and it was decided that the game should be played.” Adams said. “We hadn’t had any cases, our players have been incredibly disciplined. We come into a situation where potentially it was in the New Jersey locker room and now we are where we are, so there’s certainly the ability to connect the dots, but I think we have to let time play out, we have to let the contact tracing play out, we have to let the doctors be the experts and then we’ll know.”
Originally the league had postponed four road games in Long Island and Boston, but on Monday the NHL nixed two more games against Washington to extend the shutdown to two weeks. With the number of postponed games piling up, there has been some speculation that some teams may not be able to make up all of their games, but Adams indicated that there has been no communication from the league that the six games will not be rescheduled and the Sabres