Here is a news flash for you. The Blues don’t have a single player on the COVID list. At least that was the case during Wednesday’s practice at the Centene Community Ice Center.
There have been 21 Blues on the COVID roster at one point or another this season. And number 21 on that list, forward Pavel Buchnevich, has returned to training and is scheduled to play Friday in Seattle.
“Yeah, I think he’s ready to go,” coach Craig Berube said after practice Wednesday. “I thought he looked good. We’ll have another practice tomorrow which will be good, but I think he did a good job today.
At the risk of jinxing the team’s currently rosy health outlook, the worst may be behind them on the COVID front.
The 21 Blues who tested positive remain – to varying degrees – on their respective 90-day testing “holidays”.
(Once a player tests positive, they don’t need to be tested again for 90 days.)
People also read…
Additionally, the start of the NHL’s revised COVID protocols is fast approaching. After the All-Star break, players will only be tested if they show symptoms of COVID or cross the Canada-US border.
“I think it’s going to tone down a lot of things,” Berube said.
Not everyone, but a clear majority of Blues players who were on the COVID list this season said they experienced few or no symptoms. And player after Blues player who came off the COVID list, he complained that asymptomatic players shouldn’t be tested.
The NHL Players Association pushed for change. And barring a resurgence of COVID in the league over the next week or so, they will get their wish.
“I’m sure the guys are happy in general just because we’ve seen some of the guys get COVID without any symptoms,” David Perron said. “Most of us get nothing. It’s really great to see that they are making progress in this regard.
Count Oskar Sunqvist among them.
“When I had COVID I never would have known if I hadn’t been tested,” said Sundqvist, who was on the roster on Dec. 18 but only missed two games. “I haven’t really had any symptoms. And obviously the guys are smart enough that if they have symptoms, they ask for tests.
The three-game postponement due to COVID concerns has limited the number of games missed for him.
Benefiting from the recent reduction in quarantine time from 10 days to five days before a player can leave COVID protocols, Perron also only missed two games while on the COVID roster before returning for the Monday’s 5-3 victory over Nashville.
Strangely, Perron said he felt worse the week before he was put on the COVID list.
“I was testing (negative) in Pittsburgh, I had zero energy and I was like, ‘Wow, if it’s not positive, I’ll never test positive again,'” Perron said. “And of course it was a week later (that he tested positive).
Perron said he felt like he had a mild cold or non-COVID virus, coughing a bit.
“But the day I started to feel better was the day I tested positive,” he said. “So from then on, I just kept getting better every day.”
It’s been a long road for the team when it comes to COVID this season. In total, the Blues have had at least one player on the COVID-19 list for 28 of their 39 games. In total, the 21 Blues who were on the COVID list have missed 78 games combined.
Complete list (almost)
With the team’s COVID roster clean, the Blues are as close as they’ve been all season to having their full roster available. Twenty-two of the 23 players on the active roster practiced Wednesday, as did the four members of the taxi squad.
The only player who hasn’t trained is defender Scott Perunovich, who is suffering from an unspecified injury.
“Right now it’s day to day,” Berube said.
Perunovich actually skated before practice for a few minutes with a handful of Blues players – mostly taxi players and extras. But once the team began formal practice, he did not participate.
The NHL postponed three Blues games that were postponed in December due to COVID concerns, and changed the dates of three other games to give the team a full schedule in February.
Here’s what happened to the three postponed matches:
• The game in Ottawa originally scheduled for December 21 has been postponed to February 15
• The match in Toronto originally scheduled for 23 December has been postponed to 19 February.
• A home game against New Jersey originally scheduled for December 27 has been postponed to February 10.
In addition, the home game scheduled for January 30 against Chicago has been postponed to February 12. A road game scheduled for February 1 in Montreal has been postponed to February 17.
And the Feb. 28 game in Philadelphia has been rescheduled for Feb. 22.