The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Jake Guentzel tested positive for COVID. He is being monitored by the Penguins medical staff and will follow the protocols set forth by the National Hockey League.
Guentzel is the Penguins’ second “breakthrough” case in which a fully vaccinated player tested positive. Last Monday, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese also tested positive.
Head coach Mike Sullivan said it was his understanding that Aston-Reese’s symptoms were “mild.” Aston-Reese has not yet returned to the Penguins lineup. Per NHL policy, a vaccinated player who contracts COVID is considered a hockey injury without penalty to him or the team. The NHL placed unvaccinated players in the protocol, but teams do not get cap relief, and the illness is classified as a non-hockey injury.
Two NHL players have made public stances against the jabs: Travis Hamonic of the Vancouver Canucks and Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings. Hamonic hasn’t yet reported to Canucks camp but is expected to report, though his inability to travel across borders without a lengthy quarantine remains another issue. New York Islanders prospect Bode Wilde was against the vaccination and placed with a Swedish team. The Columbus Blue Jackets assigned tough guy Zac Rinaldo to the AHL camp, then eventually told him not to report.
While some may point to breakthrough infections as a failure of the NHL vaccine policy, and the Penguins push for 100% vaccination, the virus containment to two players one week apart speaks to the dramatically lowered transmission and infection rates among vaccinated. Last season, several teams paused their season as the virus swept through the locker rooms infecting more than a dozen players in rapid succession. Vancouver and the Calgary Flames were two teams that finished their regular season after the NHL started the playoffs because those teams suffered outbreaks.
The Penguins did not specify if Guentzel was suffering any symptoms. The Pittsburgh Penguins also offered free tests to the media members who were in close quarters with Aston-Reese. PHN believes all were negative.