Covid-19 Surge in Sabres Locker Room
Following a 5-3 loss against the New Jersey Devils on January 31, the Sabres have hit their first Covid-19 related struggle. After playing the Devils on Saturday, January 30, one player from the Devil’s roster did not participate in the second contest due to Covid related protocols. This was the start of the Covid-19 surge within the Sabres locker room. The Sabres have since announced that all games will be postponed until at least February 8.
As of February 4, the Sabres have put four active players into the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol. In addition to the four unnamed players, Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger has tested positive for Covid.
Was the NHL Wrong?
The biggest question that has been posed since the outbreak is why did the NHL not act accordingly? After the first of the two game series against the Devils, one rostered player was put into protocol. The NHL was aware of this and allowed for the second game to be played.
Since then, the Sabres have already postponed both contests against the New York Islanders. If the NHL had acted sooner, it is very likely that the Sabres would still be playing their scheduled games. The NHL was less worried about player safety and more worried about playing the game that night and it has backfired.
This is an ongoing issue around the league and has already effected several teams in other divisions. In a global pandemic it is evident that issues will arise. However, the NHL needs to take serious measures to ensure player safety before they are too late. Much like many Sabres fans, the players did not take kindly to the league’s negligence. As reported by Bob McKenzie, several Sabres players reached out to the NHLPA in regards to Sunday’s game against New Jersey.
The Next Step
Assuming the team is allowed to play after February 8, their next contest would be against the Washington Capitals. The Capitals have gotten the better of the Sabres in three of their previous four contests this year but all have been close games. In addition, the Capitals are all to familiar with the Covid-19 guidelines after they lost four players for two games for not following protocol.
The best step for Buffalo is consistency. Although this period of rest may not be wanted, it has the potential to be beneficial. The Sabres will have missed four games in total including two against the high flying Boston Bruins. In a shortened season where the talented group has struggled in most aspects of the game, time away from the rink may be just what the team needs. Expect to see a fast pace, re-energized team when the Sabres return to the ice on February 11.
Best wishes to those on both the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres currently battling Covid-19. The City of Buffalo is hoping for a speedy recovery from Ralph Krueger and his players.
“From Our Haus to Yours“