The NHL stops testing asymptomatic players after All-Star break – The Denver Post

The NHL stops testing asymptomatic players, coaches and staff who are fully vaccinated after the All-Star break in early February, and says coronavirus cases continue to fall throughout the league.

The league and the Players’ Association announced the protocol changes on Tuesday. The current policy will remain in place until the All-Star break begins on February 3rd.

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, who is expected to be behind the bench for the Metropolitan Division at All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas, called the change “common sense.”

“The players have done everything they can, done all their vaccinations – all they can do,” said Brind’Amour. “I do not know why they would test them, to be honest with you, if they are asymptomatic, so I agree with this decision. I think it is good.”

There will still be testing of asymptomatic individuals when necessary to cross the US-Canada border. Testing will not be required at All-Star Weekend, with a negative result needed to return to team facilities after the break.

90-day test “vacation” for players, coaches and staff recovering from COVID-19 remains in place. New York Islanders striker Matt Martin pointed out that with the playoffs just over three months away, it’s a smart move not to test asymptomatic players who could prevent lists from being decimated at that point.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Martin said. “Hopefully we can continue to move forward and get back to a normal lifestyle.”

The NHL and NHLPA also agreed to keep the five-day isolation period that took effect on Dec. 29, a reduction from 10 after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control updated its virus guidelines. The league and union will review protocols, including improved rules, in place on January 31, as long as cases continue to fall.

A total of 160 players entered the COVID protocol from December 29-Jan. 11 after 208 in the two weeks prior to the chance. All players on active lists are vaccinated with the exception of Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi.

So far this season, 104 matches have been postponed, including several due to participant restrictions in Canada. The league is expected to announce a wave of rescheduled matches on Wednesday, including that many will be moved into the two weeks previously set aside for the Olympics, which will continue without NHL players due to interruptions to the schedule.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat and Montreal Canadiens strikers Cole Caufield and Joel Armia went into protocol Tuesday. The Canucks end a five-game U.S. road trip and there is some concern that Horvat, goalkeeper Jaroslav Halak and striker Conor Garland will not be able to cross the border for several days.

“I’m not the border agent, so I have no idea what the process is,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said Sunday. “It just seems like it’s one a day with our group. It’s a shame.”


The Canadian press contributed to this report.

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