On March 17, 2020, the Ottawa Senators announced that one of their players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The unknown player has mild symptoms and is isolated. The team is currently in the process of notifying anyone who may have come into close contact with the player and the team doctors have asked all members of the Senatorial Organization to remain in isolation, monitor their health and seek advice from team medical staff in the event they experience symptoms.
In a statement, the team said: “The health of our players, fans and the community remains our top priority. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that our players, staff, fans and the wider community stay safe and healthy during this time of uncertainty due to the spread of the coronavirus. “
This is the first diagnosed case of coronavirus in the NHL since the league ceased operations on March 12, 2020.
In particular, just before the league went out of business, the Senators were on a road trip to California, with fixtures on March 7, 10, and 11 against the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, and Los Angeles Kings. The Senators played their game against the Sharks on March 7, 2020, despite Santa Clara County’s recommendation against large public gatherings days earlier, and the Senators stayed in California to play the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings before the NHL season was interrupted.
The Senators’ game on March 11 against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center took place just one day after the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets game in the same arena against the Los Angeles Lakers. Recently, the Nets announced that Kevin Durant and three other Nets players have signed COVID-19. While many have speculated that the players at the Staples Center were exposed to the virus, it has been reported that the Senators were using the same locker room where the nets were recently withdrawn. In addition, any speculation that NHL and NBA players contracted the virus at the Staples Center is based on mere guesswork, as it is unclear whether the undefined Senators player participated in the March 11 game or whether players were in the Staples Center or in various locations.
Regardless, it is clear that we may be able to get by without professional hockey for a longer period of time. A timetable for the return of the NHL is unclear, as Commissioner Gary Bettman has only said that the NHL season will resume when it is “judicious and safe to start again.” On the flip side, the American Hockey League, the NHL’s premier development league, recently announced that its perpetual ban would not be lifted until May 2020, and the Kontinental Hockey League, Russia’s equivalent to the NHL, announced it would suspend operations until 10 April 2020.