Kris Letang, Patrick Kane latest to enter COVID Protocol; NHL reconsidering testing requirements?

Is the coronavirus and the COVID Protocol Absences List truly behind us? It hasn’t seemed that way early on this season with a vast number of players missing practice and games due to positive test results, including some of the league’s biggest stars. That list is now expanding with two major announcements already this morning.

The Pittsburgh Penguins began their game day by announcing that defenseman Kris Letang has tested positive for COVID and entered the league protocol. Head coach Mike Sullivan qualified his status by noting that Letang is not a confirmed positive, but Letang will miss the team’s game Saturday night. 

While the Penguins will have Tristan Jarry back in action tonight after being activated from COVID Protocol, Letang joins Jeff Carter on the list with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin also still sidelined by injury. Letang has the longest active games streak for the Penguins, but that will come to an end.

Meanwhile in Chicago, the Blackhawks have announced that Patrick Kane, Ryan Carpenter, and Erik Gustafsson have all entered the COVID Protocol. For now, the team has only ruled the trio out of today’s practice and have not revealed the cause for their initial placement. However, the threat remains that they could miss games if they have tested positive.

With more and more positive tests continuing to pop up, there is growing frustration from players and team officials alike, per Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli. With over 99% of the league vaccinated and the players testing positive being asymptomatic, these missed games feel meaningless to the players and teams involved. Seravalli’s report mentions Carter, Nathan MacKinnon and Mark Scheifele, but now fellow stars Letang and Kane have entered the fray as well. The NHL is reportedly reconsidering testing asymptomatic players and now more fuel has been added to the fire. Changes could be coming soon.

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