Ottawa Senators place three more players in COVID-19 protocol

OTTAWA — Three more Ottawa Senators players have been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, including one player less than an hour before the Senators faced off against the Los Angeles Kings at Canadian Tire Centre.

The Senators announced forward Alex Formenton and goaltender Matt Murray were placed in the protocol on Thursday morning. At 6:30 p.m., the Senators announced defenceman Nikita Zaitsev had been placed in the COVID-19 protocol.

Ten players and coach Jack Capuano have been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol in the last week.

Senators head coach DJ Smith was asked if he was surprised Thursday’s game against the Kings was going ahead as scheduled.

“All I can do is coach if I’m told to coach, and that’s what I’m doing. The league has plenty of people in place to decide what’s safe and not safe, and I’ll leave that in their hands,” said Smith on Thursday morning.

Smith says he is staying in a hotel, away from his family with two young kids while the team deals with the COVID-19 protocols. 

“All you can do is try to protect yourself as much as possible,” said Smith. “Try to wear a mask, try to distance yourself and stay inside your certain circles. But at this point it’s really tough because your circle is the group that has it.”

The other players in the NHL COVID-19 protocol are:

  • Victor Mete
  • Josh Brown
  • Connor Brown
  • Dylan Gambrell
  • Nick Holden
  • Austin Watson

“Everyone seems to be doing okay, I mean there’s some guys that have had a few more symptoms than others,” said Smith, adding it is a “tough time” for players and families.  “But it’s probably more mentally. You’re an NHL player and you want to play the games, and your team is struggling and you want to help and you can’t.”

The Senators cancelled practice on Wednesday for precautionary reasons.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is monitoring the situation “very closely.”

“There has been and remains frequent communication both as among the relevant medical professionals involved (League, NHLPA and Club), and as between League and team personnel,” Daly said in an email to CTV News Ottawa. “At some point, the possible postponement of games is a possible response, but at this point in time, it has not been determined necessary by current circumstances.

“Obviously, this remains a fluid situation and the circumstances are subject to change at any time.”

Senators forward Nick Paul said the team is trying to maintain a positive mindset while dealing with the COVID-19 cases.

“There’s up and downs to the season, but this is just another challenge. It brings the group closer together,” said Paul Thursday morning.

The Senators game against Los Angeles is set for 7 p.m. at Canadian Tire Centre. You can catch the game on TSN 1200 and TSN 5.

The Sens recalled Andrew Agozzino, Dillon Heatherington and Lassi Thomson from the Belleville Senators of the American Hockey League for the game against L.A. Thomson made his NHL debut in the game in place of Zaitsev.

– with files from Jeremie Charron, CTV News Ottawa and The Canadian Press

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