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As NHL deals with COVID 19 issues is on ice transmission among players

The signs that COVID-19 would wreak havoc on the 2021 NHL season were there before the first puck even dropped. Five days prior to opening night on Jan. 13, the league announced the defending Western Conference champion Dallas Stars would not open the season as scheduled because 17 players had contracted COVID-19 during training camp. Since then, seven more teams have been sidelined because of COVID-19. The toll so far has been 35 games postponed and at least 124 players landing on the NHL’s COVID-19 list. Players are put on the list for several reasons, from testing positive for COVD-19 to high-risk close contact to quarantining following a trade. Meanwhile, the NBA — which started three weeks before the NHL — has postponed 29 games on account of the coronavirus. The NFL just completed 100% of its 16-game season and playoffs, albeit with 18 make-up games. MLB, the first North American pro sports league to not play in a bubble last year, postponed more than 40 games before completing its shortened season, though two teams did not play all 60 games scheduled. What may make the NHL unique is the possibility that the coronavirus is being transmitted during play. In other leagues, including major college football, there has been no documented evidence that players or officials are contracting COVID-19 as a result of competing. But the NHL is now acknowledging that COVID-19 may be spreading around the league as a result of on-ice contact and because the more contagious strains have infiltrated the league.”We continue to evaluate the issue, and have introduced new technological and scientific interventions to assist us,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports. “At this point, we don’t feel we have sufficient information to draw a definitive conclusion.”Players and coaches are sounding more and more certain that they are contracting COVID-19 from each other on the ice, but experts are not as sure. Mark Poloncarz, the Erie County (New York) executive, said he believes the two-game series between the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres at the end of January was a super-spreader event. In total, 24 players from the games went on the COVID-19 list, two officials tested positive for COVID-19 and Sabres coach Ralph Krueger had “moderately severe” symptoms. Minnesota Wild forward Marcus Foligno is convinced his positive test from Jan. 30 was the result of playing the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 26 and 28. And Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Bashill said he thinks the five cases on his team were the result of playing the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 14 and 16.”I think we have a couple of anecdotal cases that might suggest that it was (on-ice transmission), and obviously that concerns us,” Daly told ESPN on Tuesday. “That’s why we’re doing the genomic sequencing testing to see if we can get a better handle on that issue.

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