The Montreal Canadiens have been forced to halt their season after a player tested positive for a variant of the COVID-19 virus.
General manager Marc Bergevin confirmed the troubling news on Thursday morning after forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia surfaced on the COVID-19 list earlier this week, causing a major disruption to Montreal’s season.
The NHL acted swiftly with news of Kotkaniemi and Armia’s situation, postponing four games beginning with a scheduled clash with the Edmonton Oilers at the beginning of the week. The situation has also triggered a substantial pause to the Oilers’ season.
It’s expected the Canadiens will be able to re-open practice facilities on Monday.
There is only one confirmed case of the virus according to Bergevin, while the opposite forward was placed on the COVID-19 list as part of contact tracing. According to Arpon Basu of The Athletic, the player sidelined due to contact tracing will have to provide three negative tests before returning to the team.
The situation will have major repercussions from a scheduling perspective throughout the North Division. Bergevin mentioned Thursday that there’s a strong possibility that Montreal will have to play four games in five nights at some point, which is an exceedingly difficult and unfortunate task for a team fighting to stay in the postseason picture.
Apparently the NHL has landed on a solution to the scheduling issue, but will wait until the situation involving the Habs is settled before firming up plans.
It’s been mostly smooth sailing for teams in the North Division to this point, with the situation in Montreal being the first major incident involving clubs stationed north of the border.
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