NHL training camps might have opened up Monday morning, but there is still a long way to go before teams can safely get their players to the league’s bubble sites in Toronto and Edmonton later this month.
Just hours into the league’s Phase 3 opening, which allows teams to attend training camps at home sites, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that nine players had to be sidelined after potential secondary exposure to someone who tested positive for coronavirus.
“The team learned of the possible secondary exposure on Sunday, July 12,” the Penguins revealed in a statement. “The decision to isolate this group of players was made out of an abundance of caution in an effort to avoid exposure to anyone else within the organization. The nine players will not participate until they are deemed safe in accordance with NHL protocol and further test results.”
Due to league protocols, the identities of those nine players will not be revealed.
It’s a less-than-auspicious start to the NHL’s newest phase as COVID-19 numbers continue to spike in a majority of states across America. It was likely a large reason as to why the league opted to place both of its host cities in Canada, which has done remarkably better in handling the virus than the United States.
The state of Pennsylvania, which also includes the Philadelphia Flyers, is dealing with varying spikes in their daily coronavirus numbers. After posting over 1,000 positive cases on July 10, the number sank to 725 on Sunday.
Allegheny County, which is where Pittsburgh is located, has 4,962 confirmed cases as of Monday while Philadelphia county leads the state with 27,367 positive tests.
The Eastern Conference will play their postseason games in Toronto while the Western teams are to be housed in Edmonton. Both the Penguins and Flyers will be housed in the same hotel in Toronto at Hotel X.
The Rangers and Islanders will be put up elsewhere at the Royal York along with the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and Montreal Canadiens.