Unfortunately, things change quickly in a COVID world. On Thursday morning, just minutes prior to morning skate at City National Arena, it was announced that the Golden Knight’s game on Jan. 28 against the St. Louis Blues would be postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.
“The National Hockey League has announced that as a result of a player and another member of the Golden Knights coaching staff entering the NHL’s COVID protocols, the team’s game tonight against the St. Louis Blues will be postponed.” The National Hockey League and team said in a statement. “The team’s training facilities have been closed, effective immediately and will remain closed until further notice.”
Currently, it is unknown as to who tested positive on the team. Golden Knight’s defenseman Brayden McNabb was placed on long term injured reserve on Jan. 27, and speculation has risen as to if this is the reason why. However, the team has yet to confirm anything. This year teams are allowed to place players who have tested positive for COVID-19 on LTIR or can designate them as “non-roster” players (per Sinbin.vegas). LTIR is generally reserved for physical injuries that occur during hockey operations. Any player that is placed on LTIR does not count entirely against the salary cap but cannot return to the lineup for 10 games and 24 days. It makes sense for Vegas to do this because designating someone as “non-roster” does not allow them to receive cap relief, whereas LTIR does. This allows them to free up space to bring someone like Nick Holden up off the taxi squad. The downside to this is that the team is without McNabb for 24 days, and Holden, assuming he is called up, will have to clear waivers again to go back to the taxi squad.
The Golden Knights are not the first team to experience COVID related issues. The Dallas Stars missed their first four games of the season due to 17 members of the team testing positive during training camp. The Carolina Hurricanes followed suit shortly after, missing four games between Jan. 18 and Jan. 23.
As of now, there is no timetable for the Golden Knights to return to play. Assuming they have a similar situation to the Stars and Hurricanes, their next game will not be until Feb. 7 against the Los Angeles Kings. Only the game against the Blues has been formally postponed.
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Alex Pietrangelo is on the NHL's list of COVID related absences (per David Schoen/LVRJ)