Empty seats are seen at the start of an NHL hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Photo: AP)
An Ottawa Senators player has tested positive for the new coronavirus, the first known case in the NHL.
The team announced late Tuesday that an unidentified player had tested positive for COVID-19. The Senators said the player has mild symptoms, is in isolation and that they were notifying anyone who had close contact with him.
Ottawa players, coaches and others have been advised to remain isolated, monitor their health and seek advice from team medical staff. It was not immediately clear if any others around the team had been tested, and the NHL is not mandating that.
“The current state of medical advice is that people should likely not be tested unless they are symptomatic,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press by email Wednesday. “That doesn’t mean that potentially exposed individuals shouldn’t take proper precautions such as adhering to self-quarantine principles as necessary and immediately reporting to medical staff should they become symptomatic.”
The Senators’ final three games before the season was suspended were all in California: in San Jose on March 7, Anaheim on March 10 and Los Angeles against the Kings on March 11. The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, who had four players test positive, played at Staples Center in Los Angeles the previous night, though visiting basketball and hockey teams do not use the same locker room.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman last week announced the season was on pause with the hope of resuming and still awarding the Stanley Cup. The league and Players’ Association provided new direction to players Monday that effectively pushed back the earliest resumption date to early May, in light of CDC guidelines.
In Russia, the Ak Bars team posted a note on the team’s Twitter account urging the Kontinental Hockey League to cancel the remainder of the playoffs without awarding the Gagarin Cup championship trophy. Ak Bars, which plays in Kazan, Russia, made the request after players and staff asked to return home to their families. The team said it had “no moral right to refuse them.” Two teams have already backed out of the playoffs, which the KHL has suspended until April 10.
The USHL board of directors voted unanimously to cancel the remainder of the season Wednesday, six days after it had been postponed. “The decision was not an easy one to make, but was a necessity in order to keep our athletes, staffs and fans in all 16 of our communities safe amid this international health risk,” the Chicago-based league president Tom Garrity said.