New Jersey Devils: Covid-19 Pause Gets Weirder On Monday

New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen (45): (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen (45): (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) /

The New Jersey Devils haven’t played a hockey game in a week, but Monday was probably the worst day thanks to news of who else was going under the protocol.

The New Jersey Devils have been sitting with more than a dozen players on the COVID-19 protocol after playing a back-to-back series with the Buffalo Sabres the weekend before last. First, it was Travis Zajac who went out before the weekend began. Then, it was Kyle Palmieri who went on the protocols in the middle of the series after playing on Saturday. Now, the Devils are a full-blown hazmat ward.

It was already bad. It got worse when it spread to the Buffalo Sabres. New Sabres players get added every day, which will likely delay their season even more. Rasmus Dahlin was added to the list on Monday. The Sabres now have nine players under COVID-19 protocol and its head coach Ralph Kruger.

Speaking of which, the NHL stopped their lofty goal to get the Devils and Sabres playing again this week. They now postponed seven more games, including three involving the Devils. It’s not a surprise. The Devils have a ridiculous 19 players under COVID-19 protocols. The only starters not under the protocol are Mackenzie Blackwood, who actually was the first player to go under quarantine, Miles Wood, and most of the defense.

Then, there’s the Sami Vatanen issue. He was taken off the list after his quarantine. He was forced to isolate after traveling from Finland once his visa issues were resolved. Now, just days after coming off the list, he’s back on. The NHL will never say why one player or another is on the list, but a player coming off and immediately going back on is either a clerical error or something could have happened like a close contact. If that contact came with a Devils player or coach, it could be bad for the Devils in general.

More from Pucks and Pitchforks

Then, things got even stranger when Nico Hischier was added to the list. Is this just a sign that he’s coming off an injury and he has to do this because he’s technically an outside entity? That doesn’t ring a bell when it comes to COVID-19 protocols in the NHL rules, but it’s possible. Let’s hope, at least.

The worst news from this whole thing is two of the linesmen from the Devils-Sabres games have entered the protocol. That shows that the virus spread beyond the players, and it also shows that it’s taking more than a week to show any indication that the virus exists among those exposed. These are facts many already knew, but with near-daily testing, the league was likely hoping they could be ahead of the curve. That’s clearly not the case.

The Devils might still be two weeks away from playing hockey games. At this point, the league needs to be more safe than sorry. The Devils’ situation is far from ideal. There’s no telling how many players are sick and how