NHL revises virus protocols; Colorado is 5th team shut down
New York Rangers coach David Quinn of the New York Rangers stands behind the bench during the team's NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in New York. (Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo via AP)The NHL revised its virus protocols in a bid to keep the shortened season on track, but not before a fifth team was idled by COVID-19 problems. Hours after the league announced changes visible in arenas and important behind the scenes, Colorado joined the growing list of U.S.-based teams shut down for virus concerns. Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog joined teammate Tyson Jost on the league's COVID-19 unavailable list Thursday. Bettman said fewer than half the players in protocol have been because of a confirmed positive test and many of those were asymptomatic.
Hours after Dubois trade, Blue Jackets beat Lightning 5-2
Columbus Blue Jackets players celebrate their goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)COLUMBUS, Ohio – Hours after trading disgruntled center Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Columbus Blue Jackets got three first-period goals and beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 Saturday. Nick Foligno, Mikhail Grigorenko, Vladislav Gavrikov, Zach Werenski and Eric Robinson scored, and Elvis Merzlikins had 30 saves as the Blue Jackets played their most explosive game of the season. The Blue Jackets tied it 17 seconds later when Foligno knocked in a rebound off Vasilevsky's stick. The Blue Jackets host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday and Thursday.
NHL training camps open with sense of urgency
It was the first day of training camp for Laviolette and the Washington Capitals and most of the NHL. Camps are now open for the league's 31 teams and they will last just 10 days. Columbus coach John Tortorella said he'd emphasize a major point to players about how to approach training and playing this season: “There is no complaining about anything." “Most players would argue that camps are a little bit long anyway," Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. “I’ve been told from our team and from the league, when a player is not on the ice during training camp, we’re supposed to say he’s not available today,” Philadelphia coach Alain Vigneault said.
NHL teams making moves, not waiting for top free agents
A handful of the top free agents are still available, but NHL teams aren't waiting for those big fish to sign to make other moves. Koivu signed for $1.5 million for next season, and they need to re-up top center Pierre-Luc Dubois and other restricted free agents. Teams have to move money, and in order to move money, they might have to move some really good players.”Some good free agents found new homes Saturday. The Buffalo Sabres signed center Cody Eakin to a $4.5 million, two-year contract, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal. Buffalo later Saturday signed defenseman Brandon Montour to a $3.85 million, one-year deal.