Avalanche announce third confirmed COVID-19 case in NHL

There’s now a third known case of the COVID-19 virus in the NHL.

The Colorado Avalanche announced Thursday that an unnamed player tested positive for the infection, and has since recovered from the symptoms. The player had been in isolation since first experiencing signs of the illness and is now “back to normal” after receiving official word on their positive test.

According to the team, everyone who has been in recent contact with the player has been notified.

“The health and safety of our players, staff, fans, and community remains our highest priority,” the team said in a statement. “The Avalanche organization will continue to work in conjunction with our medical staff and public health officials to do everything we can to help the Avalanche community remain safe and healthy during this time.”

DENVER, COLORADO - MARCH 11: Members of the Colorado Avalanche skate prior to the game against the New York Rangers at Pepsi Center on March 11, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Before the update from inside the Avalanche organization, the only confirmed cases of the coronavirus belonged to the Ottawa Senators. Two players had tested positive for the infection after returning home from California, and completing the last stops on a now-abbreviated NHL schedule.

Santa Clara County was one of the first municipalities to recommend a ban on large gatherings earlier this month. Both the Senators and Avalanche competed against the Sharks in San Jose on consecutive nights over the March 7-8 weekend.

There are no known cases inside the Sharks organization.

Events scratched from NHL calendar

In addition to extending the isolation periods for players, the NHL also made some decisions on some key dates in the league calendar.

On Wednesday, the league announced the postponements of the NHL Scouting Combine, NHL Draft and NHL Awards. It’s possible that all three events initially slated for June will be scheduled for a later date and continue in some form, but the award show will not happen in Las Vegas as originally planned.

The hope continues to be that the NHL will be able to move forward on the season and eventually crown a champion on an adjusted timeline.

Play into August?

While making next season whole remains a priority, it seems the NHL will entertain the idea of playing deep into the summer to rescue this current season.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported on the network’s Insider Trading segment that the NHL asked all 31 teams for their available arena dates through the month of August.

With efforts to flatten the curve still ongoing and many obstacles still to overcome, it seems more and more likely that the NHL’s hiatus will extended beyond most best-case scenarios. Until more concrete details are available, the NHL has extended its mandated isolation period for players and staff until April 6.

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