Washington Capitals hit with fine for COVID violations after Pittsburgh visit

Tanya Simon
January 22, 2021

It's at least a week without four critical players for the Washington Capitals - including captain Alexander Ovechkin - after contact tracing following a positive COVID test revealed the group was together in a hotel room, in violation of league protocols.

The press release states the fine stems from "Involved social interactions among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings". For the time being, the Capitals are a team to avoid in fantasy. The Hurricanes had games postponed through at least Saturday and won't get to practice in person with a handful of players on the COVID-19 list.

The pandemic isn't going away anytime soon and though it's easy to cast blame on individual athletes, it's a microcosm of a thoroughly unsafe format for the regular season. "We made a mistake and we need to do a better job", Laviolette said. There was no word Thursday whether any of those games were in danger of being postponed, like what happened to the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes already this season. "Of course, you can't catch the virus when you and your teammates sit on the bench, hug each other when they score a goal, or when they are all together in the lounge or locker room", Shubskaya wrote in a message that appears to be dripping in sarcasm.

Teams were put on notice before the season that failure to adhere to the NHL's COVID-19 protocols would result in penalties. The teams were scheduled to play again Saturday afternoon.

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"We are disappointed by our players' choice to interact in their hotel room and outside of team approved areas", the Capitals' said in their original statement on Twitter.

Each team is required to carry a "taxi squad" of four to six players who travel with the team and can be called up if necessary as a way to prevent postponements.

Because of the taxi squads, the National Hockey League doesn't have an official number of players unavailable that would postpone a game. The NHL doesn't have anything that specific, with situations determined on a case-by-case basis.

Brind'Amour and Carolina general manager Don Waddell didn't seem to question any player's judgment amid the team's pause.

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