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NHL: No increased coronavirus risk for Blues as result of Anaheim game

NHL: No increased coronavirus risk for Blues as result of Anaheim game

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Roughly 12 hours after the Ottawa Senators dropped a 5-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks on March 10, the St. Louis Blues were in the same visitors locker room at the Honda Center for their morning skate.

Under normal circumstances, no big deal given the fact the Ducks were playing back-to-back home games. One team leaves, another comes in. But obviously, these are not normal times.

Some Blues player probably was sitting in the same locker stall as the Senators player who tested positive for the coronavirus — sitting there before and after the morning skate and before and after the Blues defeated the Ducks 4-2 that night (on March 11).

Other Blues players undoubtedly were in the same area, used the same sink or shower, etc.

That was the Blues’ last game before the NHL announced March 12 that it was “pausing” its season indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic. On the day of that announcement, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong communicated through the team’s leaders (captain and alternate captains) that the squad should lay low, stay at home and sit back for at least the next week or so until there was more clarity to the situation.

On Monday came more clarity, when the NHL issued a directive that all players should continue to exercise self-quarantine measures through at least March 27, but added that players were allowed to leave their club city and return home, effective immediately, even if “home” was outside North America.

All of this reached a heightened awareness when news broke late Tuesday night of an unnamed Ottawa player testing positive for the virus — the first known case of an NHL player testing positive.

One of the Ottawa Senators is St. Louisan Brady Tkachuk. Asked about Tkachuk’s health status Wednesday, his father Keith Tkachuk told the Post-Dispatch: “All good from his end, thanks.”

Similarly, Armstrong was asked about the health status of Blues players, coaches and staff in light of their possible exposure to the virus at Honda Center.

“Everyone with (us) is good,” Armstrong replied.

Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the NHL, told the Post-Dispatch that he didn’t think the Blues were at greater risk even though their time in the Honda Center came so close to Ottawa’s stay.

“In light of a number of factors, including the relevant facts we know as it relates to the (Ottawa) player testing positive, the timelines involved, and the cleaning standards employed pursuant to existing league policies, we do not believe that anyone in the St. Louis Blues’ organization would have been exposed to any increased level of risk for infection as a result of the team’s game in Anaheim on March 11,” Daly said via email Wednesday.

The number of reported coronavirus cases in the United States approached 8,000 on Wednesday, with nearly 140 deaths.

The unnamed Senators player has experienced mild symptoms and is in isolation, according to the Ottawa Citizen. At this point, according to the NHL, the health recommendations are for only players who have experienced symptoms to undergo testing for the virus.

Other Senators and the Blues may not be out of the woods when it comes to possible infection because the time from exposure to experiencing symptoms — the incubation period — can be from two to 14 days.

As of Wednesday, it had been seven days since the Blues played in Anaheim.

Noteworthy here is the fact that Blues forward Robert Thomas has been staying at the Tkachuk household in St. Louis since he entered the NHL last season. But it’s not known if Thomas is still staying there or has headed back to his parents’ home in the Toronto area.

It’s also unclear whether Tkachuk has returned to St. Louis or is still in Ottawa.

Blue notes

The Western Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League announced Wednesday they are canceling the rest of their regular seasons. Those leagues join the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in doing so, after all had announced earlier that they were merely suspending play.

All three of those junior leagues are leaving open the possibility of conducting playoffs at some point in the future. The Blues have prospects playing for teams in each of those leagues.

• Another Blues prospect, defenseman Scott Perunovich, has been named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker award, which goes to college hockey’s best player. Perunovich, a second-round pick in 2018, No. 45 overall, plays for Minnesota-Duluth.

Blues Quick Hits

• Read about retail stores in the region that are cutting hours or closing due to the coronavirus.

• Read the list of area restaurants that are closing, switching to carryout or otherwise adjusting due to the coronavirus.

• Area events canceled or postponed

• Read the list of canceled sports events.

• COVID-19 cases in Missouri by county

• COVID-19 cases in the United States

• CDC fact sheet: Prevention and treatment

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