As expected, the Bruins got one more player back from COVID protocol on Wednesday and they very well could be at full strength by the time their season is re-started on New Year’s Day.
That is thanks to new guidelines that came down from the NHL on Wednesday in light of the new recommendations from Centers for Disease Control on Monday that dropped the isolation period for those who test positive from 10 days to five.
Under the new guidelines, agreed upon by NHL and the NHLPA, vaccinated players who had tested positive could get out of protocol after five days if the player has no symptoms or “symptoms are resolving,” provided that player tests out and gets clearance from the club’s physician.
Another caveat is that “such exit is permitted by your local healthy authority.” As of Wednesday evening, Canadian health officials had not yet dropped the isolation period from 10 days.
After the Bruins got defenseman Brandon Carlo back in the fold on Wednesday, Charlie Coyle remains the only Bruin in protocol. He entered protocol on Dec. 26, which means he could conceivably rejoin the team for Friday’s practice and, depending on his fitness level, be in the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres at the Garden.
Having just heard the news when he was speaking to reporters, coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t exactly sure if he’d be able to get Coyle back. But it certainly sounds like a welcome development for both the players and management.
Cam Neely and Brad Marchand have both talked about the league needing to learn to live with COVID, especially now that many of the omicron variant cases are causing either mild or no symptoms in players.
Taylor Hall, who was in protocol from Dec.18-27 despite being asymptomatic, was also hopeful that the regulations could be adjusted.
“That was frustrating to have to take time off and not be able to come to the rink, etc.,” Hall said on Tuesday. “Hopefully we can start moving along with COVID. I don’t think we’re going to move past it but we have to accept that this is going to be a part of our lives and hopefully guys like me don’t have to miss 10 days of action when we don’t have any symptoms.”
The Bruins-Canadiens game scheduled for March 21 the Garden will now be played on Jan. 12. Tickets bought for the March game will be honored on Jan. 12, when the game was originally scheduled to be played in Montreal but was postponed because of COVID issues.