Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin respected the NHL’s law of silence imposed on injuries and illnesses during phases 3 and 4 of its recovery plan, refusing to comment on potential COVID cases- 19 in the team reported by The Athletic.
According to the online sports media, at least three players from the Habs have tested positive for the new coronavirus in the past few days. There were three absent on the ice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday morning: defenders Josh Brook, Brett Kulak and Xavier Ouellet.
The Athletic updated his story Monday afternoon, adding that two of the results would be false positives.
Asked about the report before the players arrived on the ice in the morning, Bergevin remained silent.
“You are all aware of the NHL policy regarding players who are not on the ice and I will ask you to respect it,” said Bergevin.
The NHL announced over the weekend that it will handle injury and case announcements for COVID-19, without identifying the players or teams.
Despite this policy, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Canadiens’ opponent in the qualifying round starting August 1, announced that they had removed nine players from their camp since they could have had contact with someone who suffered a COVID-19 positive control.
The situation would be all the more worrying for the Canadian, since the attacker Max Domi suffers from type-1 diabetes and is more at risk of developing severe symptoms or complications if infected with the new coronavirus. The Habs announced Sunday that Domi will take the next seven to 10 days to think about participating in the NHL revival tournament.
“I started having discussions with Max and his agent two weeks ago,” said Bergevin. The decision will be based on the opinion of the experts and Max. We want to choose what is best for him.
“All the teams are subject to an outbreak, but the NHL has worked very hard to put in place a safety protocol and it continues to work hard so that we can go to the hub cities,” added Bergevin. I spoke to the players this morning. We ask them to be careful and follow the protocol. “
A beneficial experience
Bergevin reiterated his desire to see the Canadian have the longest course possible during the revival, even though we know that one of the eight teams eliminated in the qualifying round will have the opportunity to win the first right to speak at the next draft.
Counting on an interesting group of hopes, he believes that the experience of living the playoffs will be beneficial for his troop, despite the unusual context.
“It will be unprecedented – playing in an empty arena. It will be different, recalled Bergevin. We’ll face a team with more playoff experience, but one we’ve had some success against this season. It will be a short streak (best of five games). Everything is possible. I want our players to get the most out of this experience. I don’t see any disadvantage in participating in this tournament. “
The Canadian also officially announced the arrival of defender Alexander Romanov on Monday. The 20-year-old Russian signed a three-season entry contract, including 2019-2020, with an average annual value of US $ 1,177,500.
Romanov will therefore be able to join his new team to take part in the training camp for phase 3 of the NHL return to play plan. He must first submit to a quarantine of seven days before taking part in the camp. He will also be able to travel with the Canadiens to the bubble city of Toronto to train with his teammates during phase 4.
However, he will not be eligible to play in the qualifying round against the Penguins.
This process will, however, allow Romanov to adjust to his new environment and spend the first season on his rookie contract.
“As a former player, I can tell you that there is a huge difference between your first and second camp because you know the players and the staff,” said Bergevin.
The d.g. Habs also noted that Romanov could have decided to start the season in Europe this fall, while the start of the 2020-21 NHL campaign will be delayed until at least late November.