The NHL on Saturday postponed the New York Islanders’ next two games due to the COVID-19 outbreak that hit the team.
The Islanders said they potentially had eight unavailable players for Sunday’s road game against the New York Rangers. So the NHL postponed the two games in consultation with the NHL Players Association and the Islanders’ medical personnel.
The contest against the Rangers and a road game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday will be rescheduled for later in the season, the NHL said.
The Islanders are currently slated to host the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
The decision came after forward Casey Cizikas entered COVID-19 protocols on Saturday.
That left the Islanders with seven players in the protocol. In addition, forward Josh Bailey was removed from protocol on Friday and was considered a game-time decision if Sunday’s contest had been played.
The other Islanders in the protocol are forwards Anders Lee, Kieffer Bellows and Ross Johnston and defensemen Adam Pelech, Andy Greene and Zdeno Chara.
General manager Lou Lamoriello said three non-players also tested positive for COVID-19.
“All you can do is just stay focused on what you do have control of,” Lamoriello said in a video conference on Saturday. “Our coaching staff has done that, we’ve asked our players to do that, and I think they’ve done a tremendous job over these set of circumstances, starting off with being on the road, coming back and having one practice going into a new facility and then being hit with the COVID.
“You can say it’s unfortunate, but I don’t want to say frustrations can get in the way. Certainly everyone is human, but right now all we can do is take a step back and use these three days and get prepared for our next practice and our next game.”
The shorthanded Islanders lost 1-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. New York has lost eight straight games and has been outscored 32-7 during the stretch.
Coach Barry Trotz said it has been a hard situation to manage with the team also sliding down the standings.
“Me personally, I try to text the guys, see how they’re feeling every day, talk to one or two of them,” Trotz said. “We’ve got a mixed bag in there. Some guys got hit with it hard, some guys really not a lot of symptoms but they can’t get the negative test. It’s all on an individual basis, really.
“But hopefully in the next couple of days we’ll get a few more out, at least back skating. I don’t know if they’ll be prepared to skate or not because they’ve all had different degrees of it. We’ll see.”
The Islanders aren’t the first team to be shut down by the league this season. The Ottawa Senators had three games postponed due to their COVID-19 outbreak and returned to action on Monday.
–Field Level Media