BOSTON – The Carolina Hurricanes became the latest NHL team hit by a coronavirus outbreak Tuesday as four more players were placed in the COVID-19 protocol, prompting the league to postpone their game at Minnesota.
The call came a little more than five hours before the scheduled start time in St. Paul, where several Hurricanes were lined up for testing in the arena hallways before their morning skate at Xcel Energy Center. The NHL did not immediately announce a rescheduled date.
The Hurricanes became the fourth NHL team this season to have games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Last month, Ottawa had three games postponed and the New York Islanders had two postponed.
Including opponents, 11 of the 32 teams have been affected by at least postponement so far. The NHL has recommended but not mandated booster shots for its players and team personnel.
Calgary's games on Monday at Chicago, on Tuesday at Nashville and on Thursday at home against Toronto were called off. The Flames, whose facility is closed this week, added three more players to the virus protocol, joining six teammates and a staff member.
In Vancouver, the Canucks canceled practice after two players tested positive for COVID-19 hours before a home game against Columbus.
Earlier Tuesday, the Boston Bruins placed forwards Brad Marchand and Craig Smith in the COVID-19 protocol, meaning they’ll miss Tuesday night's game against the Vegas Golden Knights. If Marchand and Smith are required to isolate for 10 days, they would miss five more games before they are eligible to return for the Dec. 27 game against Pittsburgh in Boston.
For the Hurricanes, forwards Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov and Steven Lorentz and defenseman Ian Cole were placed in the protocol and must remain in Minnesota for “the time being.”
The team had to leave leading scorer Sebastian Aho, forward Seth Jarvis and an unidentified member of the training staff in Vancouver, where the three of them entered the protocol following a 2-1 loss on Sunday. Aho was scratched from the lineup against the Canucks because of what was announced as an illness.
That meant six players and one staff member entered the protocol in a 24-hour period. Hurricanes defensemen Tony DeAngelo and Brett Pesce also went in the COVID-19 protocol on Nov. 30 and have missed the last seven games.
Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said the team was “just trying to get by day to day right now.”
“Everyone did what they had to do,” he said. “We got vaccinated. We did our part. So you know, I don’t know what else there is to do. Guys are testing all the time. We’re masking up. It is what it is right now. Everybody’s getting this thing unfortunately. The good news is they’re not getting sick.”
The Minnesota game was set to cap a five-game road swing for the Hurricanes, who were due to return home and play Thursday against Detroit, Saturday against Los Angeles and Sunday against Nashville.
AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina, and The Canadian Press contributed to this report.
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