Although ending their road trip with three consecutive defeats to the Californian trio of teams is certainly frustrating enough, goaltender Carter Hart was showing signs of malcontent for other reasons.
“It’s tough, for sure,” the 23-year-old said in Tuesday night’s post-game media availability. “Guys are testing positive with no symptoms or mild symptoms. I mean, the league’s got to find a way to change that. We’re either going to keep playing shorthanded all season long or games are going to keep getting postponed. I think it’s a joke. It’s got to change.”
Before the game in Anaheim, the Flyers were notified that captain Claude Giroux and top-pairing defenseman Ivan Provorov tested positive for COVID, and were pulled in the middle of a team meeting on Tuesday morning. Adding those two key players to the duo of Nick Seeler and Jackson Cates — who were already in the league’s protocol — was not enough to postpone the game. According to head coach Mike Yeo, all four players are asymptomatic.
Hart himself, just got out of the league’s protocol after testing positive and experiencing mild symptoms, playing his first game since Dec. 16 on Tuesday.
It appears to be more and more common around the league, and as every player but one Detroit Red Wings forward is vaccinated, that players testing positive are experiencing no symptoms or just mild ones. This frustration from Hart no doubt bubbles further, as NHL players see that the NFL and NFLPA have decided to alter their COVID protocols, to a more relaxed approach regarding asymptomatic players, which includes ending mandatory testing for vaccinated and asymptomatic players.
For any member of the Flyers, it’s hard to not correlate the string of losses to the recent absences due to positive tests.
“It’s obviously difficult, those are quality players,” Yeo said. “Even yesterday, it happened right at the start of practice, so you have to adjust right away. That’s just sort of the world we’re living in right now. We can’t make excuses.
“Very much tonight that game was still there for us. We could have put one past their goalie there at different points of the game when we had some of those opportunities. I think that game would have taken a turn for a different direction. Can’t make any excuses. It’s difficult, but that’s what we have to deal with.”
Who knows how long Giroux and Provorov will be out, even with the NHL recently following the CDC guidelines and applying the five-day mandatory quarantine instead of the previous 10-day. The Flyers are scheduled to face the Pittsburgh Penguins at home on Thursday and host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.