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The NHL made an example of the Washington Capitals this week when they fined the organization $100,000 and placed four players, including captain Alex Ovechkin, on the COVID-19 protocol list.
In addition to Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov gathered together in a hotel room, maskless, on a recent road trip in violation of the league’s strict guidelines to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. The Washington Post reported Thursday that Samsonov had tested positive and after contact tracing, all four players were put in quarantine and ruled out for at least the next four games, according to head coach Peter Laviolette.
In a statement released Wednesday, Ovechkin took responsibility for his actions and expressed his regret over the situation. But his wife, Nastya Shubskaya, criticized the NHL for its guidelines on Instagram.
“Of course, only Russian players of Washington Capitals were together in the same hotel room,” she wrote, according to USA Today. “Of course, all of the other NHL players, when playing away, separating themselves from their teammates. Of course, you can’t catch the virus when you and your teammates sit together on the bench, hug each other when they score a goal, or when they are all together in the lounge or locker room.
“Players can’t get infected when they are at the restaurants, supermarkets, malls, etc. Virus only works in a hotel room.”
Shubskaya said Ovechkin and Orlov both have COVID-19 antibodies, but that doesn’t preclude them from following the league’s protocols.
The Capitals’ fine was the first punishment the NHL handed out for violating COVID-19 protocols, something the league and the NHL Players’ Association agreed upon prior to the start of the 2020-21 season.
Multiple games have already been postponed and rescheduled due to outbreaks among other teams, including the Dallas Stars, who had 17 of the NHL’s 27 total positive player tests throughout training camp and had to rearrange the whole start of their schedule as a result.
“We knew the rules,” Laviolette said. “We aren’t sitting here saying we were unaware.”
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