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Penguins Aston-Reese Tests Positive for COVID; Enters Protocol



Pittsburgh Penguins Zach Aston-Reese

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese tested positive for COVID on Monday. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan announced the news before his typical pregame media availability.

Aston-Reese spoke to the media on Sunday and appeared well. Sullivan did not elaborate if Aston-Reese had symptoms or merely tested positive as part of the NHL’s testing protocol.

“…We have so much faith in our medical staff and our team doctors. These guys are on top of this stuff. And I think they do a terrific job behind the scenes,” Sullivan said. “We will follow the NHL protocols, will monitor the contact tracing and all of that, all of those things that are associated with the protocols.”

A few players were held out of the 2020 training camp before the playoff bubble due to secondary exposure, but no positive tests were reported. The Pittsburgh Penguins have not had a positive test through the isolated training camp, playoff bubble, and all of last season.

“I think our team overall has really done a great job with respect to this stuff,” said Sullivan. “It’s remarkable to think that since the beginning of this pandemic, this is the first COVID case that we’ve had as a group. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it stops there.”

All media personnel who spoke with Aston-Reese are vaccinated, as well.

Aston-Reese signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal in August. Last season, he scored a career-high nine goals and did so in just 45 games. The Penguins winger may be called upon to replace some of the offense and energy lost when the Penguins traded Jared McCann and lost Brandon Tanev via the expansion draft.

The Penguins play the Columbus Blue Jackets in their first preseason game on Monday night. Most of the Penguins regulars, including Aston-Reese, were not on the roster for the game, which was released on Sunday evening.