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Lightning Round: more COVID in the NHL, AHL, and NWHL

Things are just not going great right now.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes
Jan 28, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) looks on from the players bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

After their coaching staff was quarantined due to COVID-19, the Vegas Golden Knights have had to postpone their Thursday night game against the St. Louis Blues after the virus potentially spread to the players (namely Alex Pietrangelo). [Knights on Ice]

“Media was allowed inside City National Arena five minutes before the 10 a.m. scheduled morning skate was to take place. By 10:01, no players were on the ice and nets were not in the respective creases. At 10:15, the Golden Knights canceled morning skate and were waiting on official word from the league.

The announcement came five minutes later.”

The Hershey Bears also had to cancel their preseason game against the Binghamton Devils originally set for Sunday due to health and safety reasons. The AHL has had several games cancelled and postponed during their preseason.

The Metropolitan Riveters of the NWHL have left the league’s “Nubble” after several positive cases of COVID-19 on the team were reported. The NWHL was playing essentially a long round robin among their six teams before the Isobel Cup playoffs all within a bubble in Lake Placid, New York. The league is also embroiled in an internal fight with Barstool sports after the website’s CEO and fans attacked several reporters and players, namely rookie phenom Saroya Tinker.

In a little-known story, NHL referees are also struggling to deal with the impacts of the virus rampaging through the league. [Scouting the Refs]

“Travel has been reduced whenever possible, resulting in officials remaining in the same city to work a series of games between two teams. The North Division has an exclusive group of dedicated referees and linesmen remaining north of the border. Nonetheless, the league and officials are still working hard to cover their assignments while following COVID protocol.”

In the AHL, players are starting to speak up about the salary share they’ve been getting. This season contracts have been prorated and cut to 40% their negotiated salary, or less if the number of games decreases any more.

The AHL Stockton Heat will be playing their season in the same building as their NHL affiliate Calgary Flames this season. The schedule for the Canadian Division has yet to be announced (or even come up with).

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has abruptly left the team for “personal reasons.” Rumor has it Rutherford tried to trade top defenseman Kris Letang, a deal that ownership vetoed, leading to Rutherford leaving the job. His contract was up at the end of this season. [ESPN]

“Patrik Allvin gets the first crack at picking up where Rutherford left off. A longtime member of the scouting department before becoming assistant general manager in the fall, the 46-year-old becomes the first Swedish-born NHL general manager. Not that he’s had time to let the significance sink in.”