With the growing list of Toronto Maple Leafs players and staff entering COVID-19 protocol, there is an increasing uncertainty over what’s to come.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will return home from their trip out West with a 100 percent success win rate; unfortunately for everyone concerned, it comes as a result of playing just one of their four scheduled games. The threat of COVID-19 has once again engulfed the NHL.
On Saturday, the Leafs confirmed goaltender Jack Campbell, defencemen TJ Brodie & Travis Dermott, head coach Sheldon Keefe and assistant coach Spencer Carbery had been placed into the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. This took the Leafs to nine positive players and staff, having previously added captain John Tavares, along with forwards Alexander Kerfoot, Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds to the list.
The Leafs had already seen their game on Thursday in Calgary postponed, due to the Flames’ season being putting on hold. However, in light of Toronto’s own growing list of unavailable personnel, their weekend games in Vancouver and Seattle were also called off.
In theory, the Leafs are next scheduled to play back home on Thursday, versus the St. Louis Blues. However, there has to be a considerable concern this could now also be under threat, given the growing list of personnel entering COVID-19 protocol.
Consider that everyone in the Leafs’ travelling party took PCR tests last Monday, with everyone coming back as negative. They played the game in Edmonton, flew to Vancouver on Wednesday, and it was on Friday when the team received their first positive tests with Tavares and Kerfoot.
Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas will understandably follow the NHL’s lead on what to do. As reported by Mike Battaglino of NHL.com, Dubas said:
"“When I spoke to [NHL] Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, he said our next two games were postponed but that we were not being shut down. We’ve got test results coming back here (on Saturday), but that’ll be very instructive of where we are at and how we’ve come through.”"
Adding to the concern is the Leafs’ AHL affiliate the Toronto Marlies also having games postponed, due to five players testing positive for COVID-19. This understandably compromises the ability to recall anyone, especially if the Marlies’ own list of positive cases continues to grow.
Everyone who tested negative for COVID-19 was set to fly back to Toronto on Saturday. It is always tough when the players have to be split up, as Dubas commented to Battaglino and other members of the media:
"“Since we cancelled practice Friday we haven’t been together as a group. The four guys, I’ve spoken to them and each seem to be in good spirits and doing well. I think everyone is a little on edge and unsure what is happening.”"
In this respect, the last thing the NHL wants to do is pause the season entirely, but there may come a point when the league has no choice but to do so. All everyone can do is hope this does not become the case, although the signs don’t look promising at this stage.
How do you see this all playing out? Do you believe the Leafs and the NHL in general will be able to limit the number of postponed games, or do you predict the season will have to be paused entirely? Let us know in the comments section below.