The Free Press’s Helene St. James filed an early-morning article discussing the Red Wings’ battle with their COVID outbreak:
[Red Wings coach Jeff] Blashill said he started coughing on the way home from the Dec. 16 at Carolina, and tested positive the next day. That led to Grand Rapids Griffins coach Ben Simon serving as acting head coach Dec. 18, when the Wings beat the New Jersey Devils, 5-2. When four players entered protocol Dec. 19, it was no longer feasible to field a lineup for the one game that at that point was still on the schedule, Dec. 23 at Minnesota.
“It was probably the right move, I guess, given where everybody was at across the league,” Blashill said. “Where we were at, we were going to have a hard time fielding a roster. And at that point, it’s not so much about competitive equity as just filling a roster. We had number of guys in protocol and a new of guys continue to move into protocol. We are in a difficult time with this pandemic and ultimately what anybody wants is to be able to field the requisite number of players and be able to play.”
Raymond entered protocol before Christmas, but Leddy was added Sunday. Tyler Bertuzzi, Danny DeKeyser and Marc Staal also have tested positive this season.
Speaking Dec. 18, general manager Steve Yzerman questioned whether it made sense to test vaccinated players (of which Bertuzzi is the only exception) who are asymptomatic. Blashill expressed confidence in how the NHL is handling playing through the pandemic, and dealing with the highly contagious Omicron variant.
“I don’t know if anybody knows the exact best way to handle what we are all going through, and that’s trying to run a professional sports league and play games within this pandemic,” Blashill said. “They are hard decisions that are being made.”
“I’m sure the guys that haven’t yet tested positive are anxious, I’m certain of that. This seems to be highly transmissible. We are all anxious. This is the world in which we are living right and we have to find every way possible to make the most of it.”
Continued (paywall); it’s going to take teamwork for the Red Wings to get through this latest battle with COVID.