Maple Leafs games postponed; Keefe, Campbell added to COVID protocol

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Sheldon Keefe and Jack Campbell were added to the NHL COVID-19 protocol by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday after they had two games postponed earlier in the day.

Toronto’s game at the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday was postponed, as was its game at the Seattle Kraken on Sunday.

“When I spoke to [NHL] Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, he said our next two games were postponed but that we were not being shut down,” Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas said Saturday. “We’ve got test results coming back here today, but that’ll be very instructive of where we are at and how we’ve come through.”

Keefe, the Maple Leafs coach, and Campbell, their starting goalie, were added to protocol along with defensemen TJ Brodie and Travis Dermott, and assistant Spencer Carbery. Forwards Alexander Kerfoot, Wayne Simmonds, Jason Spezza and John Tavares were placed into protocol Friday.

Maple Leafs players and personnel who tested negative for the coronavirus were scheduled to return to Toronto on Saturday.

“Everybody in our traveling party had PCR nasal swab tests performed in Edmonton on Monday morning and all those tests returned as negative and we had no players with any symptoms or illness on Monday,” Dubas said. “We stayed an additional night in Edmonton on Tuesday night and then flew to Vancouver on Wednesday. Very early on Friday morning I received a call from our medical director Dr. [Noah] Forman informing me that two of our players had tested positive on the previous day’s tests and immediately cancelled practice (in Vancouver). We performed another round of PCR and rapid antigen testing and were informed two additional players returned positive results.

“Two of the four are entirely asymptotic, one had mild symptoms that have dissipated, and one has some fever and chills and body aches.”

Toronto is next scheduled to play Thursday at home against the St. Louis Blues. The Maple Leafs last played Tuesday, a 5-1 win at the Edmonton Oilers. Their game Thursday at the Calgary Flames also was postponed.

“Since we cancelled practice Friday we haven’t been together as a group,” Dubas said. “The four guys, I’ve spoken to them and each seem to be in good spirits and doing well. I think everyone is a little on edge and unsure what is happening.”

The NHL has postponed 29 games this season involving 22 teams after announcing Saturday that the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators would be shut down through the NHL holiday break (Dec. 26) because of COVID-19 concerns.

The Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers each had their games postponed through the holiday break Friday.

The NHL had 55 games postponed last season; each was made up as part of a 56-game schedule.

“It has not been brought up to us pausing the league entirely,” Dubas said. “I’m hopeful that’s not necessary, but every day is a new day and it’s impossible to say what tomorrow will bring in terms of the evolution of this virus.”

NHL.com independent correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report

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