After a week of seeing their ranks and resources depleted by COVID-19, the NHL made the decision to postpone the New York Islanders’ next two games — including a Sunday clash against the Rangers — at least, through Nov. 30.
The call came after an eighth Islanders player, center Casey Cizikas, tested positive for the virus along with three team staff members, president and general manager Lou Lamoriello announced on Saturday. Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Adam Pelech, Andy Greene, Ross Johnston, Zdeno Chara, and Kieffer Bellows also tested positive over that week-long stress.
On top of that, the team lost top defenseman Ryan Pulock and second-line center, Brock Nelson, to injury, forcing the Islanders to play with half of their opening-night roster on the shelf.
Regardless of their roster issues exacerbated by COVID, the NHL allowed the Islanders to play four games at UBS Arena — all losses — as their losing streak extended to eight games.
While reports suggested that Lamoriello went to the NHL and asked for postponements, the Hall-of-Fame executive shut down such a notion.
“I have never asked for games to be postponed,” Lamoriello said. “The league over the past couple of years certainly has invested in the best infectious disease medical doctors available. Both the union and the league, plus their own physicians. We have to trust their decisions, what goes into these decisions, what statistics allow them to make these conclusions.
“I’m not privy to that. All we can do is respond to those decisions.”
The Islanders will now have to turn in negative tests for three straight days before they can return to the ice and begin practicing.
Their Dec. 2 game at UBS Arena against the San Jose Sharks is still up in the air.
“I have to practice what I preach. What we have no control of, you can’t be distracted by and all you can do is just stay focused on what you do have control of,” Lamoriello said. “Our coaching staff has done that, we asked our players to do that, and they’ve done a tremendous job over those set of circumstances.
“Right now, all we can do is take a step back and use these three days and get prepared for our next practice and our next game.”