NHL needs to tighten up on COVID-19 Protocols following Tomas Nosek debacle

Tomas Nosek #92 of the Vegas Golden Knights. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Tomas Nosek #92 of the Vegas Golden Knights. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Something has to be done by the NHL after what transpired with Tomas Nosek on Tuesday night.

Honestly, it is getting pretty tiring talking about COVID-19 on a sports site but this is the reality of the new world we now live in, and the NHL has some serious questions to answer after an incident involving Vegas Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek on Tuesday night in a game against the Anaheim Ducks.

In what was only their third game back from being on hiatus due to the virus, the Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 to improve to 8-1-1 on the year in the West Division with a win streak of three straight games. However, one big almighty blemish soon put a damper on proceedings.

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The Golden Knights quickly announced after the game that postgame media availability had been cancelled due to COVID-19 Protocols, raising panic as to what the situation could be given that Vegas had just returned from being sat out due to the virus. After all, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was taken off the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol, but was sat out for the win over the Anaheim Ducks, so could it have anything to do with the blueliner?

There were rumors given that Tomas Nosek left the game in the second period and did not return and, sure enough, the NHL released a statement on Wednesday announcing that Nosek had tested positive for COVID-19 and was therefore removed from the game and isolated from his teammates.

Tomas Nosek (92)
Tomas Nosek #92 of the Vegas Golden Knights. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

NHL must straighten out COVID-19 Protocols after Tomas Nosek’s positive test

Contact tracing was initiated immediately and rapid tests have been administered to all players and staff on both teams, with tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile Arena still scheduled to go ahead at the moment. Whether it should or not is a different matter entirely, and we will see what happens throughout the course of the day.

However, one has to wonder what exactly went wrong on Tuesday given that the players are tested every morning with the results coming back later that day, so if Nosek was tested on Tuesday morning why was he allowed to play in that game without getting the results back first? It doesn’t make a lot of sense and it raises more questions than answers at this point.

For instance, the NHL puts players and coaches into their COVID-19 Protocol not just for positive tests but also if players come into close contact with someone who has. Given that Tomas Nosek played 13 shifts in the game and sat on the bench with his teammates for the majority of the first two periods, shouldn’t that mean that the rest of the Golden Knights enter the protocol?

We’ve been here before in sports given that Seth Curry of the Philadelphia 76ers was sat on the bench with an ankle injury for his team’s NBA game against the Brooklyn Nets in January when he tested positive for COVID-19. Curry was on the bench for the first quarter before team officials were made aware of the positive test, although he was wearing a mask, and was then promptly placed into isolation. The 76ers remained in New York where they carried out contact tracing, but they ended up playing just days later against the Denver Nuggets.

Now, major disaster was averted in that situation and the NBA has since tightened up on its COVID-19 protocols, leading to fewer positive tests in January and this month, although they did have some drama with Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant earlier this month when he was pulled from a game twice due to the NBA’s health & safety protocols but, overall, the NBA has seemingly gotten things under control.

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The NHL must do the same and it seems to be the common sense thing to postpone tonight’s game between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Anaheim Ducks just to air on the side of caution and avoid even the remote possibility of having to deal with another mass outbreak. I explained here why it is unlikely the NHL will hit the pause button on the 2020-21 season but, in order to stop things escalating further given that the number of postponements is gradually reaching the 40 mark, they must tighten up on their procedures and COVID-19 protocols immediately and that starts with making sure they deal with the Tomas Nosek situation with the utmost care given that we’ve already seen the Buffalo Sabres impacted after playing the New Jersey Devils twice in two days, despite the fact that the Devils would have a plethora of players placed into the league’s COVID-19 Protocol just a day later. Postponing tonight’s game and then immediately tightening up on procedures and protocol has to the main priority for the National Hockey League now.