When it rains, it truly pours for the Philadelphia Flyers. Among all the long-term injuries and coaching changes that have already occurred this season, the team is now dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19. Prior to the postponement of a handful entering Christmas break, including a matchup with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers placed Morgan Frost, Kevin Hayes, and Max Willman on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
“I’ve only texted with all three and all three are doing fine,” said Mike Yeo, Interim Head Coach. “Obviously now it’s a matter of getting through the 10-day protocol. “All three guys are doing well, but regardless of how you feel, there’s certainly a timeline you have to follow and we’ll do that.”
After the short break concluded, the Flyers announced Sunday evening that forward Sean Couturier was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list retroactive to Dec. 21. The team also announced that defenseman Ryan Ellis and two unnamed staff members were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list as of Dec. 26. In addition to the other players, prior to the start of practice Monday afternoon, the team placed forwards Derick Brassard and Scott Laughton, as well as goaltender Carter Hart, on the COVID-19 protocol list.
“This pandemic is raging right now. It’s so contagious. I think everybody is trying to do the right thing, but it may not matter,” said Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher Monday after practice.
What Does This Mean for the Flyers?
As much as all this news hurts the team, the COVID-19 outbreak is far from over for the Flyers. In the coming days, it would not be surprising if more players end up on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list. Hopefully, the team will be able to contain the outbreak within the locker room, but it seems like things are continuing to get worse.
On the bright side, Willman was removed from the COVID-19 protocol list and was cleared to return to practice. Fletcher discussed the possibility of Hayes and Frost being eligible to return for the team’s next game in his interview with the media Monday after practice. The pair would be eligible to return for a road matchup against the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday, Dec. 29. Frost is hoping to be cleared Monday evening following a cardiac screening and Hayes is awaiting test results after being completely asymptomatic during the whole process.
While the Flyers are certainly not out of the woods just yet with a couple of players returning in the coming days, things will hopefully get better in the coming weeks. For the time being, the organization recalled Jackson Cates, Gerry Mayhew, and Felix Sandstrom to the club’s Taxi Squad from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to hopefully assist the team in a time of need.
The Phantoms have already provided more than enough support to the Flyers this season as young players have filled pivotal roles in the lineup with key pieces missing for a greater part of this season.
Flyers Leadership Speaks Out
With the current state of the Flyers being so uncertain, Flyers captain Claude Giroux spoke with the media Monday after practice to discuss the teams’ current state and the effects COVID has had on the team so far this season. The Flyers have tried to bounce back in more ways than one this season, so what’s another bump in the road?
“Before the break, I think we felt good about our game and we were doing a lot of good things and we had momentum. Obviously, it’s not that great when you get a break when you are feeling good about your game, but saying that we need to make sure we’re getting back on track as fast as we can,” said Giroux following Monday’s practice. He continued by saying, “We are still working on playing a more complete game. Doesn’t matter who’s in or out of the lineup.”
Regardless of who is in the lineup, the Flyers will try to continue finding success any way they are able to. Going into the break, the team had won four out of the last five games, collecting at least a point in each of those games. The Flyers will look to continue this success as they travel to the West Coast for a four-game skid over the next week and a half.
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Bobby Bader Jr. is a freelance journalist born and raised in Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL Premier) as the team’s media coordinator and serves as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Penn State Harrisburg. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo in articles like this one.