The Carolina Hurricanes hope to reopen their training facilities soon and resume playing next week, after their facilities were closed and games postponed because of COVID-19.
“I envision [the training facilities] being closed for the next day or so,” general manager Don Waddell said Thursday. “But we’re hoping that by the time we get here toward the weekend that we could start doing some things. Maybe it won’t be a full team but start doing some things, and ramping back up to full practice and then getting ready to play next week.”
The Hurricanes’ last game was a 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Monday.
They were scheduled to play at Nashville on Tuesday and against the Florida Panthers at PNC Arena on Thursday and Saturday. The NHL announced game Tuesday was postponed “out of an abundance of caution,” and then announced Wednesday that Carolina’s training facilities would be closed until further notice and games would be postponed at least through Saturday as a result of five players being placed on the COVID-19 protocol list: defenseman Jaccob Slavin, and forwards Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen.
The precise reason players are unavailable or how long they might be out are not provided by the NHL or teams.
Carolina’s next game is scheduled to be against the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, SUN, NHL.TV).
Coach Rod Brind’Amour said entering the season everyone understood something like this could happen, and the question now is how the Hurricanes deal with it.
“Are we going to be in tip-top shape? Probably not,” Brind’Amour said. “We’re going to have to figure out different ways to make up for the time we’ve lost. We’ll find out, and I think it’s great. It really just comes down to doing it right as best you can, and that’s kind of what we’ve always preached anyway. Let’s see how this works out.
“I believe in the group. I think we can find a way to kind of get through this. I think we’ll be stronger in a lot of ways, because this isn’t ideal for anybody. We’ve got guys sitting in Nashville right now in a hotel room that can’t leave their room. It’s brutal. I feel for these guys. But at the end of the day we’re still pretty lucky that we’re being able to talk about the fact that we’re playing a game, and so I think that’ll win out in the end.
“I believe in this group. I don’t think we’ll be too adversely affected by all of this.”
Waddell and Brind’Amour said the Hurricanes followed NHL protocol, including using their video room as a second locker room, to make sure they didn’t have more than 10 players together and putting no more than three players together at an 8-foot table for meals on the road.
“We think we’ve done everything we possibly can do, and you just can’t control …” Waddell said. “We see what’s going on in our country and our world. Sometimes you just can’t control it. So the best thing now, we’ve got to try to figure out how to get it out of the locker room and continue to look at avenues to make sure we keep the environment safe for our players.”
Brind’Amour said the Hurricanes held practice via video conference Thursday and the players had to figure out a way to stay in shape on their own. He said strength and conditioning coach Bill Burniston was dropping off stationary bikes for players.
Waddell said he spoke to NHL officials Thursday about rescheduling games. He said the NHL did not want to play three games in three days, but the Hurricanes might have to play five games in seven days.
“[The 56-game schedule] wasn’t crazy compared to a regular season, but it’s going to get crazier now as we try to fit in games,” Waddell said. “But I think they’re all doable. We just don’t know what else is going to happen. Hopefully we don’t have too many more [postponements], not only from us.”
Waddell said the decision to postpone games had nothing to do with the quality of the players on the COVID-19 protocol list.
“The concern is when you have that many players at one time that are either positive or in the contact tracing, the fear is that it could come through the locker room,” Waddell said. “That’s why the League made a decision with our doctors, the League doctors, that it was better to take these days and just shut it down. Let’s get it out of the locker room so we can resume our schedule here in the near future.”