NHL notebook: Blues report virus testing issue to league, still expect to play Avs

The St. Louis Blues reported coronavirus testing problems to the NHL on Wednesday, hours before Game 2 of their first-round playoff series in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.

General Manager Doug Armstrong said the team “discovered discrepancies in COVID test results relating to multiple players” and was working with the NHL to address them. Both teams were expecting to play the second game of their series after Colorado won the opener Monday night.

An NHL spokesman said an update was expected later Wedesday afternoon.

The Blues took the ice for their pregame skate in Denver but canceled media sessions scheduled for Coach Craig Berube and players. Wingers Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz and goaltender Jordan Binnington were not on the ice with the rest of the team for the pregame skate.

St. Louis is the only one of the 16 playoff teams with any players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Leading scorer David Perron has been on the list and unavailable since Saturday, defenseman Jake Walman since Friday and forward Nathan Walker since Thursday. Perron did not travel with the team for the first two games of the series against the Avalanche.

The team recently confirmed that Walman, who’s fully vaccinated, had tested positive for the virus after undergoing additional tests and was put in quarantine. Blues forward Zach Sanford was on the protocol list March 20-21 before further testing revealed a false positive.

The NHL began relaxing virus protocols last week for any team that had 85% or more of its traveling party fully vaccinated. The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning was the only team to confirm it has reached that threshold.

Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov were unavailable from May 4-15 because of virus protocols. They were cleared to return to the ice Sunday but missed Game 2 of the Capitals’ first-round series against the Bruins on Monday. Game 3 was Wednesday night at Boston.

A total of 51 regular-season NHL games were postponed for virus-related reasons. Those postponements pushed back the original May 8 end date for the regular season, which didn’t wrap up until Wednesday afternoon as Calgary and Vancouver wrapped up their delayed schedules against each other.

The Blues, who won the Cup for the first time in franchise history in 2019, went into the playoff bubble last summer as a top contender and lost in the first round. Armstrong said roughly 20% of players had COVID-19 before the 2019-20 season resumed.

DEVILS: The New Jersey Devils hired former U.S. national team captain Meghan Duggan a manager of player development on Wednesday, making her the latest prominent women’s player to join an NHL team front office. Duggan joins fellow Americans Kendall Coyne Schofield and Cammi Granato and Canadian rivals Hayley Wickenheiser and Danielle Goyette in NHL coaching or management jobs.

Coyne Schofield joined Chicago in November as player development coach, Granato is a scout for Seattle and Goyette this week joined Toronto as director of player development when Wickenheiser was promoted to senior director in that department.

“It’s important and it’s exciting that a lot of these organizations are starting to see value in that diversity of experience, diversity of thought and perspective and what a variety of backgrounds can bring to an organization,” Duggan said by phone.

The Devils said Duggan will work with assistant general manager Dan MacKinnon in a variety of roles. Duggan expects to do “a lot of different things” in hockey operations and also get on the ice to help with skills training.

“Her successful track record as a teammate, leader, captain and driver of initiatives will be resources to all players in our organization,” GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “We look forward to her utilizing her perspective of the game, attention to detail and creative thinking to help our players reach their potential.”

Duggan retired in October and at 33 is older than every current player on the Devils roster. “Just coming out of the game myself, I can hopefully relate to some of the players in a variety of different ways,” she said.

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