An unnamed Ottawa Senators player has tested positive for COVID-19, as first reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and later confirmed by the team. The player becomes the first NHL player to be publicly diagnosed with the Coronavirus.
The player reportedly has mild symptoms and is in self-isolation. The team is contacting all those who came in contact with the player, and are including public health officials and team doctors in assisting the situation.
All members of the team have been requested to remain in isolation as well, while monitoring their own health and working with team doctors should any symptoms arise.
From the team’s press release, “The health of our players, fans, and community remains our highest priority. We will continue to do everything we can to help ensure our players, staff, fans and the greater community remain safe and healthy during this time of uncertainty due to the spread of the coronavirus.”
In the days leading up to the March 12 NHL pause, the Senators played all three California teams including the San Jose Sharks. The San Jose area is a hot spot for COVID-19, and the game just happened to be held one day after Santa Clara County recommended large gatherings be cancelled in the area.
Furthering the possible exposure, the Senators played the Los Angeles Kings in what turned out to be the final NHL game before the suspension of the season. This came one day after the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets played the Los Angeles Lakers. There have been four confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the Nets team.
Chris Johnston shared that the Senators sent some of their players to Belleville to self-isolate, but it appears that none of these players are the one that has been diagnosed.
While this is the first confirmed NHL player to be diagnoses, there have been other cases in the NHL sphere. A part-time employee at the Sharks home, SAP Arena, and a full-time office staff member of the Vancouver Canucks have also tested positive.
Mixed Reports on Other Senators with COVID-19
There have been varying reports on whether or not other Senators players have been showing symptoms, but Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports that NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has said no other players have shown symptoms at this time and they won’t be testing more players. (from: “COVID-19: Ottawa Senators player first NHLer to test positive” – Ottawa Sun – March 18, 2020).
At the same time, it’s been reported that multiple Senators have shown symptoms and are already awaiting test results. (from: “Senators player becomes first NHLer to test positive for COVID-19” – The Athletic – March 18, 2020).
Whether other Senators have shown symptoms or not, the NBA has shown us that teammates are a high risk to transmit the virus to each other. The Nets have four players that have been confirmed to have the virus and there have been two with the Utah Jazz.
Many Unknowns in the Hockey World
As mentioned, the NHL suspended their season on March 12. All major sports leagues have shut down for now, and there is no real answer to when we might see hockey again. The NHL has been working on possible dates for the return of the game, even continuing the current season with having it pick up in July and run through September.
With the spread of the virus around the globe, it becomes more and more evident that this was the right call from the league. The safety and health of their players, staff, and fans must always come first.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.