It seems every professional sport stumbles significantly out of the gate, when it comes to harnessing the virus that continues to rage across the globe. And of course, the NHL is not immune to that fact.
Neither are the Blackhawks:
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 25, 2021
According to the team’s site, neither player will be available for practices, travel or games until he is removed from the protocol. Right away, however, we should acknowledge that the status of DeBrincat and Boqvist does not necessarily mean either player actually currently has COVID-19:
These “COVID Protocol Related Absences” can be the result of a number of factors including, among others: (1) an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until confirmatory testing is completed pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (2) mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (3) required quarantine as a high-risk close contact in accordance with the Positive Test Protocol; (4) isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or; (5) quarantine for travel or other reasons as outlined in the COVID-19 Protocol.
So let’s hope that this is just a case of false positives or an abundance of caution due to contact tracing. Their health is the No. 1 priority, perhaps especially so during a season in which no one expects them to contend for the Stanley Cup and in which they’re already missing so many key players long-term.
In any case, the Blackhawks next two games come against the Predators tomorrow and Wednesday night. And DeBrincat, who had been on that first line with Pius Suter and Patrick Kane, currently ranks second in team scoring with six points (2G, 4A) in six games. Boqvist has three assists in six games.
Losing these two leave huge holes in the Blackhawks lineup, which already has been knocked down before the season started. Both play on the powerplay units for the Blackhawks, which ranks second in the league this season and has scored in each of the first six games of the year. Chicago had scratched Matthew Highmore the past few games, so he may slot back into the lineup in DeBrincat’s spot. Also in the fold could be Brandon Pirri or MacKenzie Entwistle from the Taxi Squad. Defensively, Boqvist’s spot could be filled by Lucas Carlsson to start, with Wyatt Kalynuk and Nicolas Beaudin also in the mix on the Taxi Sqaud.