Swedens coach among four ineligible for WJC because of COVID-19

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Coach Tomas Monten and Detroit Red Wings defenseman prospect William Wallinder are two of the four members of the Swedish National Junior Team who are ineligible to participate in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship after testing positive for COVID-19 this week.

Wallinder, who was selected in the second round (No. 32) of the 2020 NHL Draft, was released from the preliminary roster on Monday. Monten, assistant Anders Lundberg and forward Albin Grewe, who was selected by Detroit in the third round (No. 66) of the 2019 NHL Draft, were ruled ineligible on Tuesday.

“We are looking at various options,” Monten said. “I will focus on myself for now and take care of my situation. Our management team will start looking for options going forward.

“I know there are protocols to follow and the only thing we can do is to talk to [the IIHF] and they will have to talk to the government in Alberta (Canada). I can’t put too much weight in that matter. I just got my test result and I know that I must be in quarantine for seven days.”

Tuesday was just the latest setback for Sweden. Prior to the start of training camp on Sunday, video coach Adam Almqvist and forwards Karl Henriksson (drafted by New York Rangers with No. 58 pick in 2019 draft) and William Eklund (2021 NHL Draft eligible) tested positive and did not join the team.

“It is concerning and a difficult situation … where our priority is the safety for our staff and players,” Swedish Ice Hockey Association president Johan Stark said. “We have done a good job testing and isolating our players and staff, and it’s good that we have a system and a structure that works where we find [the virus] in an early stage. Now we have a challenge to add to our staff in a perspective of both time and hockey wise.”

Sweden has 32 players remaining in its camp at Sundsvall, and seven will be released before the team travels to Edmonton on Dec. 13. The IIHF has ruled that a team must be together for one week before arriving in Edmonton, and each member of the 40-person traveling party must have three negative tests for the coronavirus. Once a team has arrived, all players and staff members will be in quarantine for five days in their hotel rooms and be tested daily.

The WJC is scheduled to be played at Rogers Place from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, 2021. No fans will be in attendance for the games, and the teams will be placed in a secure zone similar to the one used by the NHL during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Sweden will be in Group B in the preliminary round and play against the Czech Republic (Dec. 26), Austria (Dec. 28), Russia (Dec. 30), and the United States (Dec. 31). Group A consists of Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Germany.

The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals on Jan. 2. The semifinals are Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place game is scheduled to be held on Jan. 5. Games will be broadcast in the United States on NHL Network.

Two players taking part in Canada’s selection camp in Red Deer, Alberta, tested positive for coronavirus on Nov. 24, but following the completion of a mandatory 14-day quarantine, the host country’s camp was scheduled to resume activities on Tuesday.

NHL.com staff writer Mike G. Morreale contributed to this report

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