Before NHL games began on Wednesday, January 20th the National Hockey League handed it’s first penalty against a team for Player Violations to the COVID-19 Protocols that is allowing the League to hold the 2020-21 season. That team though… it just happened to be the Washington Capitals.
The League levied a $100,000 fine against the club due to player social interactions that involved them being in close contact and were not wearing face covers. In accordance to Section G of the COVID-19 Protocols, that were agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA prior to starting the season, when it comes to Quarantine Requirements it clearly states:
These provisions apply to all Players (and other members of Groups 1 and 2A) reporting to theNHL COVID-19 Protocols, Section G – Travel, Quarantine, and Training Camp Requirements
Club’s home market for Training Camp and the Regular Season, including Players on the Club’s
Reserve List throughout the Season. For clarity, this includes Player recalls, trades, and/or Player
signings, or other permitted categories of Players as agreed to in the Transition Rules.
A quarantine requires the following:
• Staying at home (or in place on the road);
• The individual may not leave their home or hotel room for any purpose, including, if at
a hotel, to use common amenities such as the hotel gym, bar, or restaurants; no visitors
are permitted; and meals and medications must be delivered to the individual’s home or
hotel room in a contactless manner.
• Monitoring yourself for symptoms (see Section M);
• Avoiding contact with other people;
• Arranging access to needed supplies such as groceries; and
• Avoiding the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g., acetaminophen, ibuprofen)
as much as possible
A key point in this is the one regarding an individual not being allowed to leave their home or hotel room for any purpose. This includes hanging out with one another just for the hell of it. It makes sense to put these types of restrictions in because teams are travelling this time around, unlike this past summer when the teams were playing in a bubble atmosphere that provided a little more flexibility for the players, so these restrictions are going to be needed to make sure that all of the proper precautions as taken.
Another point to be taken into account is Section J of the COVID-19 Protocols. Section J covers Physical Distancing, Face Coverings, and Other Safety Measures in the Practice Facility and Game Arena. While this focuses more on the Practice Facility and Game Arena, it sets the parameters for what is expected for teams when they are travelling or not involved with on ice participation when it comes to physical distancing and wearing face covers.
My final look at the Protocols before going back to the Washington Capitals and everything else we have learned, especially since there has been more news breaking as I’m writing this, is Section P of the COVID-19 Protocols which covers Compliance and Governance. Section P states:
Adherence to the provisions in this Protocol and a level playing field will be important both duringNHL COVID-19 Protocols, Section P – Compliance and Governance
Training Camp and throughout the NHL Season for the purpose, most importantly, of maintaining
the health and safety of Players and Club personnel, as well as to maintain the integrity of
competition among the Clubs. This Protocol sets forth a layered approach: no one aspect can
stand on its own. Established violations of, and/or lack of compliance with, the COVID-19 Protocol
will result in significant Club and individual sanctions, including potential forfeiture of games,
fines and reimbursements of expenses, loss of draft choices, and/or ineligibility for participation
in Training Activities.
Concerns regarding compliance with the COVID-19 Protocol requirements shall be reported to
the Club’s Facility Compliance Officer, and may also be reported directly to Bill Daly or Julie Grand.
Players may also contact their NHLPA Divisional Player Representatives if they have concerns
regarding compliance with the provisions of this Protocol.
So if you don’t adhere to the rules that everyone’s agreed to, then there is a price to pay, but let’s get back to the Capitals now.
So Wednesday night the Capitals were hit with the $100,000 fine for the Player Violations. About 405 minutes later we learned that forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov, and goaltender Ilya Samsonov were all placed on the COVID-Related Absence List.
We would learn that those four players broke protocol and were hanging out in a hotel room together at some point during the club’s four game road trip. The Capitals organization would release a statement along with a statement from captain Alex Ovechkin.
The Capitals as an organization makes it known that what happened was unacceptable, and that like with all other 30 organizations, are working hard to make sure that the Protocols are met to guarantee that this season can happen. However, when it came to Ovechkin’s “apology” in his statement… *deep breaths* It was the most half-assed garbage out there. He comes off, in my opinion, as insincere and not taking the situation seriously. It comes off as if he’s disappointed that he can’t hang out with his teammates, which is understandable as they are like a family, but guess what? It’s not going to be the end of the world for you guys because you still get to practice and play the games together. So get over it. You agreed to these protocols just like every other player in the League and you need to adhere to them. Plus for someone who is idolized here in the Washington DC area, it’s very disappointing to see this from Ovechkin.
Now in a little bit of breaking news from this afternoon, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette stated to the press that due to quarantining in adherence to the COVID-19 Protocols, Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Orlov, and Samsonov are all expected to potentially miss the next four games for the Capitals. Laviolette also noted that there was a positive virus case among the Capitals players, and the NHL did contact tracing as a result to discover what took place.
To Laviolette’s credit he took responsibility for the failure that the staff and organization did in making sure that the protocols were being adhered to.
At the end of the day, these four players screwed up, and the Capitals are paying the price, but also are being made an example of to the rest of the League. To put it in nicer words, “Screw Around, and Find Out”. Guess what? The Washington Capitals found out.
UPDATE: Ilya Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19 and as a result of the poor judgment of all four players, will need to do their quarantine which will cause them to miss at least the next four games.
To read the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocols, please click on the link below.