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COVID Protocols Continue To Lack Consistency

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been a season of trial and error, which was expected. After news broke that the Golden Knights were notified during Tuesday’s game that Tomas Nosek tested positive for COVID-19, many wondered how the league would handle Vegas’ latest case. Also, how and why the results were delivered so late allowing for an infected player to dress and play. Would Vegas have to shut down and delay operations or carry on without their fourth-line center?

Tomorrow night’s game in Las Vegas between the Golden Knights and Ducks remains scheduled to be played at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Rapid PCR Point of Care tests will be administered to all Players and staff on both teams in advance of that game (in addition to the daily lab-based PCR testing) and any decision regarding potential postponement will be made by the League’s, NHLPA’s and Clubs’ medical officials, following all COVID Protocols and local and federal regulations.-NHL

Up until now, a player being pulled from a game had only happened in the AHL, one played right here in Vegas. So, I’m sure the NHL’s judgment had to surprise even the Golden Knights organization.

Earlier this month, Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon was asked about that exact situation, and you can’t blame him for not really having an answer. His only frame of reference was a similar situation that occurred when a player from the San Jose Barracuda tested positive during a contest against the Henderson Silver Knights.

I don’t know what type of testing they were using. The NHL protocols are PCR testing everyday. I don’t know what exactly San Jose was doing, I can’t speak to any of that. So, I really don’t know the answer to that question. The situation you referred to, to my knowledge hasn’t happened at the National League level. I’m not 100% sure about that but I haven’t heard if it has.-Kelly McCrimmon on February 1st, 2021

One of the uncertainties the league should address is testing on gamedays. As we watched on Tuesday night, Nosek played two periods before the team was alerted. The 28-year-old center’s last shift was the final 10 seconds to close out the 2nd period. It was clear neither Nosek or the coaching staff were aware of the situation brewing behind the scenes.

As it turns out, gameday testing results aren’t delivered in a timely manner. According to McCrimmon, results are returned later to the team and the league that same day. Now we come to realize the outcome could come as late as 9 PM PT.

We got those results back that day. The National Hockey League has the same company that tests all 24 US-based teams. The results of those tests arrive at the NHL and the club level simultaneously. So, the NHL is fully abreast of when positives are recorded not only in our organization but across the National Hockey League. -McCrimmon on February 1st, 2021

It just brings up so many questions, all of which are not detailed in the league’s COVID protocols nor have been answered by anyone from the NHL. If test results are commonly coming back in during the game, it’s highly unlikely it took a month for a team to have one come back positive.

The bigger question might be as it particularly pertains to Vegas. There have only been two known cases of test results coming back mid-game and both tests were administered in this city. The AHL preseason game was suspended while the NHL continued on with just the removal of the positive tested player.

Some games go on, some are postponed. Some teams lose 15 players while others can isolate it to one. Some players miss weeks, others days. There’s no semblance of consistency that anyone can find.

There’s still plenty of time for the league to sort this out. Everyone is learning on the fly and it’s perfectly okay to admit failures in the past. But so far, it seems like the league is just playing a giant dangerous game of damage control.

We always knew the NHL was going to be up against a very infectious virus, we didn’t know they were going against themselves too.

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15 Comments

  1. Pistol Pete

    The key is rapid Point Of Care (POC) testing where results come in a matter of minutes. Hopefully POC tests become the NHL standard on game days.

    https://www.nhl.com/goldenknights/news/nhl-statement-on-last-nights-vegas-anaheim-game/c-321283332

    “Tomorrow night’s game in Las Vegas between the Golden Knights and Ducks remains scheduled to be played at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Rapid PCR Point of Care tests will be administered to all Players and staff on both teams in advance of that game (in addition to the daily lab-based PCR testing) and any decision regarding potential postponement will be made by the League’s, NHLPA’s and Clubs’ medical officials, following all COVID Protocols and local and federal regulations.”

  2. Daryl

    I don’t get it… I’m a nobody and can get my test results back in under an hour. How in the hell can something like this even happen?

    • A VGK Fan

      Daryl, you are thinking of Rapid Antigen testing, which is different than PCR. PCR is much more accurate (90% or higher) while rapid antigen is about 70% accurate. this explains why NHL does PCR over antigen, and why it takes longer to get results. although they really should have something in place by now to have it before a game.

      • Pistol Pete

        There is a rapid POC version of PCR; that’s what is referenced in the NHL statement I posted.

        • Daryl

          If they can’t get the results back before game time then what’s the point. Makes more sense to me to do the test that actually gets the results back before game time specially considering neither is 100% accurate. Both tests are 100% accurate on positive results, at least that is what the doctors told me when I got tested. If it’s negative they send it off but if it’s positive it is accurate.

        • Daryl

          I don’t have a clue how much either costs but as I stated, if you are taking a test what’s the point if the results don’t come back before game time? Even if the results take 24hrs and the results are used for the next test, if the test is administered before game time, the results should be back in time, not before the start of the 34d period. I get what you are saying and not arguing with you, just saying it makes absolutely no sense to me.

  3. EK

    Jason writes…. “The 28-year-old center’s last shift was the final 10 seconds to close out the 2nd period. It was clear Nosek or the coaching staff was aware of the situation brewing behind the scenes”. I’m not sure what you are trying to say here. If they got the results while he was on the ice then once he was done with his shift he was done..period. What does “aware of the situation brewing behind the scenes” mean? I certainly don’t think they would have sent him out onto the ice or left him on the bench once they got his results.

    • Jason Pothier

      Thanks for pointing out a mistake in my article. I edited to say that Nosek nor the staff were aware. My bad, and thanks for pointing it out EK.

  4. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    I have to agree, somewhat, with Ken here. The lack of transparency by the NHL AND the Knights organization is not helping anyone to understand what’s going on regarding covid and the league.

    • DOC (Go Knights Go)

      Sorry Jason ….. I mistakenly said Ken earlier, I obviously meant you!

  5. Pistol Pete

    Looks to me like the Nosek incident will cause all NHL teams to deploy POC testing each game day ensuring results are delivered well ahead of game time. That much more costly probably.

  6. B-Rad-Lee

    The PCR test is utterly unreliable, according to its inventor.
    “Even if Mullis had voiced a similar statement before his death in 2019, this quote does not mean the PCR test is unable to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – rather that it **cannot determine whether the individual tested is infectious**.” If so, what use is it?

    It works by taking a small sample and “cycling” it to make it more pure. The problem is that if you cycle it more than 35 times the results become pseudorandom — they randomly show positive and negative. Many labs are cycling over 40 times, basically until they GET a positive. “But if cycle thresholds cycle beyond 30 times, it means the viral fragments are so few that they are impossible to detect. Instead, a microbial piece of dead virus or nucleotide is detected and easily mistaken for the virus fragment, as explained by Dr Fauci during an interview with This Week In Virology, July 2020.”

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