Fans have questioned the NHL’s decision after hockey star Alexander Ovechkin and three of his countrymen at Washington were placed on the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol list, earning a $100,000 fine for a reported breach in a hotel room.
Ovechkin, who is chasing NHL legend Wayne Gretzky’s goals record, joined fellow center Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov on the league’s sanctions list.
The compatriots are believed to have gathered in one hotel room in a violation of Covid-19 restrictions requiring all players to stay alone in a single room, with no guests allowed except for hotel staff.
The players have been sanctioned by the league for “social interactions among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings.”
In addition to the #caps $100,000 fine, the team has added Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Samsonov to the NHL’s COVID Protocol list.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 21, 2021
This is the first time the Capitals players appeared on the league’s protocol list this season, which includes those who test positive, have a potential exposure or face quarantine requirements.
“Our training staff has worked extremely hard to create a safe environment for our players and staff to be able to compete this season,” the Capitals said in a statement.
“We are disappointed by our players’ choice to interact in their hotel room and outside of team approved areas.
Not saying he should have broken the rules, but why do the rules forbid spending time with teammates in the hotel when they’re on the ice and in the locker rooms together? Because no one’s watching to see if they’re being safe? https://t.co/b45XOZRtQJ
— Rick (@Rick_City) January 21, 2021
And not for nothing, if they had a visitor outside the rink come visit them and then they tested positive, that’d be a huge domino effect if the rest of the team caught it because they hung out in a room together and then infected the team.
— Scott Wasilewski, CRCST; CfA-RS (@scottywazz) January 21, 2021
But they didn’t have someone come and visit them, and are just as likely to spread it – if not more likely, based on studies about the spread in hockey arenas in general – to infect teammates during the game. They shouldn’t break the rules, obviously, but it’s a really dumb rule.
— Becca (@BeccaH_JR) January 21, 2021
“We accept the NHL’s decision and once again will reiterate the Covid-19 protocols in place to make sure the players are in full compliance moving forward.”
Ovechkin released his own statement. “I regret my choice to spend time together with my teammates in our hotel room and away from the locker room areas,” he said. “I will learn from this experience.”
The players’ inclusion on the list means that the Russian quartet will not be allowed to train with the rest of their teammates, although it remains unclear whether they will be allowed to play Washington’s next game against the Buffalo Sabres which is scheduled for Friday.
Ok so they can hug and high five after a goal, practice, sit next to each other on a bench, etc. etc. etc. Such total Insanity BS
— John Davis (@jwdodu) January 21, 2021
Good thorough breakdown JJ. Prayers up that nothing happened virus wise& its just a minor inconvenience and that they can come on for Friday game
— WiseBeyondMyYears (@sports_god1) January 21, 2021
Many fans were confused by the ruling. “OK, so they can hug and high-five after a goal, practice, sit next to each other on a bench and so on,” observed one. “Such total insanity bullsh*t.”
Another claimed: “They didn’t have someone come and visit them, and are just as likely to spread it – if not more likely, based on studies about the spread in hockey arenas in general – to teammates during the game.
“They shouldn’t break the rules, obviously, but it’s a really dumb rule.”