The Tampa Bay Lightning had to temporarily close their training facilities because some players and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus this week.
On top of that, news broke via the Toronto Sun that Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews has also tested positive for COVID-19.
The NHL said that since voluntary, small-group sessions were allowed at teams’ practice arenas on June 8, 11 of more than 200 players have tested positive. The players who tested positive have been self-isolated and are following medical protocols.
Reportedly, three unidentified Lightning players and two staff members tested positive. The remainder of the team is being tested, and contract tracing is being performed.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie was first to report via Twitter, and the club has since put out a statement confirming the positive cases.
Like all NHL teams, Tampa’s players have been tested for the virus twice each week during small-group workouts.
Tampa is one of three teams scheduled to face the Flyers in a round-robin tournament to determine the top four Eastern Conference seedings in the Stanley Cup playoffs – provided the league returns. (Boston and Washington are the other teams.)
The season was halted March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The NHL is in Phase 2 (small-group sessions) of a four-part setup. Training camp, which is Phase 3, will start July 10 if the league and the players association can work out safety and health concerns related to resuming play.
The season would probably start at two still-to-be-named hub cities, without fans, in early August, but the outbreak involving the Lightning and at the Phillies’ training facility in Clearwater, Fla., could cloud the openings for both sports. Five Phillies and three of their staff members were infected.
Asked if Tampa’s three positive cases would affect the league’s plans to open camps July 10, Bill Daly, the NHL deputy commissioner, said: “Not at this point.”