This is the thing everyone worried about. On Monday morning before the start of Phase 3 training camp, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced via Twitter that nine players would be held out of camp until they clear Phase 3 testing protocols because each of the nine was secondarily exposed to COVID-19.
There were no reports of illnesses or even positive tests, but the secondary exposure is enough to isolate the players
“The decision to isolate this group of players was made out of an abundance of caution in an effort to avoid exposure to anyone else within the organization,” the Penguins statement read. “The nine players will not participate until they are deemed safe in accordance with NHL protocol and further test results.”
Secondary exposure is defined as contact with a person who was in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. Monday was the first day of Phase 3 training camps. On Sunday, reports circulated that three Montreal players tested positive, as well.
It was unclear from the Penguins statement if the nine players’ exposure occurred during Phase 2 workouts or privately.
The NHL has not specifically made rules for secondary exposure in Phase 3, but as part of Phase 4 players who may have been exposed to the virus must be isolated and test negative twice in 48 hours.
In the spring, the Pittsburgh Penguins had one player test positive for COVID-19, but have not had further positive tests. Including the three Montreal players, the NHL has had only 29 positive tests since Phase 2 testing began in early June. There have not been any reports of severe effects and nothing more than low-grade fevers.
However, both the Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Louis Blues had to temporarily close their practice facilities after multiple players tested positive.
Observers noted the absences of 11 players including Patric Hornqvist, Anthony Angello, Sam Poulin, P-O Joseph, Philip Varone, Adam Johnson, Sam Militec, Juuso Riikola, and goalies Alex D’Orio and Emil Larmi.
PHN will follow the situation and report additional details as they are made available. Per NHL policy, the league will not name players who test positive but will release the statistics.