Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang had some interesting, if sobering, thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic in light of new restrictions announced Saturday by the NHL as the virus wreaks havoc on the league — as well as other sports, and, well, the world.
While many are predicting or concerned that the NHL will shut down its season, at least temporarily, Letang isn’t so sure that will mitigate the spread.
“I don’t know,” Letang said after practice Saturday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex before the Penguins flew to New Jersey for a game Sunday against the Devils. “If we shut down now … this thing’s not going anywhere. It’s going to be part of our lives.
“I don’t know what’s the right decision to make. … I’m just saying it’s tough to know what to think when you clearly know it’s going to be around for a very long time.”
Letang, who is the Penguins’ NHL Players Association rep, noted that the new restrictions are a return to what was in place last season — daily testing, masking up everywhere, holding virtual or very well spaced meetings, players being barred from doing non-hockey activities outside the hotel on the road.
Most recently, the Penguins were being tested every three days.
Letang is one of several Penguins players who had COVID-19 with symptoms earlier this season. Team captain Sidney Crosby and coach Mike Sullivan were among the others. The Penguins have so far escaped the most recent outbreak around the league.
The NHL and NHLPA, in joint statements Saturday, said the added restrictions are in response the emergence of the Omicron variant of the virus and the increase in positive tests. Seemingly by the hour more NHL players and coaches are being added to the COVID-19 protocol, and there have been postponements of games.
Letang said talk among the players centers on “health and safety being the most important things.”
Sullivan added that “we’ll follow (the league’s) lead” in trying to deal with the virus.