By Patrick Kelly
With training camp on the horizon and Phase 2 of the NHL’s return to play in full effect, the Blues hit a small bump in the road. According to Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, sources said “The St. Louis Blues canceled practices at the team’s facility because of “multiple” positive tests for COVID-19.” While the Blues practiced at the facility on Thursday, they had to cancel their Friday workouts because of the results.The team was also expected to have some players train over the weekend which will now be canceled so the team facilities can be cleaned.
That report was updated Saturday when Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch said four players and one coach had tested positive. Thomas wrote that the positive tests were the result of several players being at a bar in Clayton last week. One player tested positive a few days later, followed by another player and the coach, and then two additional players.
The Blues are expected to resume workouts on Monday which would give them four more days of Phase 2 before the scheduled beginning of full training camps on July 10. Also according to Rutherford, there are reports that Phase 3 could be pushed back if the players do not approve the next steps of the return to play plan. Thomas said camps might not begin until July 13.
The Blues aren’t the first NHL team and certainly not the first team in the four major sports to have multiple positive tests. The problem is that with the Blues being the newest team to have tests come back positive, it pushes back the opportunities the Blues will get to practice as a full team which will lead to the question of whether they will be able to play with a full team. As 590’s Andy Strickland put it on Twitter Friday night, “The way things are going, getting through Phase 3 is the biggest challenge for the NHL teams. If we can just get to Phase 4 and get everyone in the bubble.” It really is a race against time for the NHL and for Phase 4 to happen, the NHL and its players will have to be vigilant because just like the NBA, the bubble is the safest place for these players to be.
Last Monday, the NHL announced that of the more than 250 players that began voluntary workouts June 8, 15 tested positive. After further testing another 11 were positive. There could be more because not all players have reported for the voluntary work.