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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 11, 2020
Alexander Romanov can’t wait to put on a Canadiens jersey. While there’s a chance he will join the team for training camp and Phase 3 of the NHL’s Return to Play Plan next week, Romanov won’t be playing in the 24-team postseason tournament next month.
The Canadiens had hoped Romanov would be cleared to play, but when a memorandum of understanding between the NHL and the players’ association was reached on Monday it was decided no players signed after play was halted on March 12 because of COVID-19 would be allowed to play when the league resumes action.
There’s still the possibility Romanov, who has been keeping in shape by playing in a 3-on-3 tournament in his native Moscow, will be invited to the Canadiens’ training camp so he can meet his new teammates and get a jump-start on learning the team’s system. But camps are limited to 30 skaters and the Canadiens may be reluctant to use one of those spots on someone who can’t play.
That’s one of two decisions the Canadiens have to make regarding Romanov, who they selected in the second round (38th overall) at the 2018 NHL Draft. When they signed the 20-year-old defenceman to a three-year, NHL entry-level contract in May after his contract in the KHL expired, the Canadiens said the starting date of the contract hadn’t been determined. They had hoped to sign Romanov for the 2019-20 season and use him right away. But here’s where the memorandum of understanding gets really goofy. As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted this week, the Canadiens can start Romanov’s contract in 2019-20, they just can’t use him.
That’s a decision the Canadiens have to make later this week in a 53-hour window that will open when the new agreement between the NHL and the players’ association is ratified.
When the agreement is ratified, the clock also starts ticking for players who are thinking about not playing in the post-season because of worries about COVID-19. Players are allowed to opt out without penalty, and while several Canadiens have said they want assurances the league is doing everything to keep them safe there has also has been a consensus that they want to take advantage of an unexpected trip to the post-season.
The one player whose name keeps coming as a possible problem is Max Domi, who is a Type 1 diabetic and also deals with celiac disease. Domi takes great care in managing his health and has said several times over the past two months that he expects to play. But TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted the NHL has the right to pull a player deemed unfit to play and that means Domi will get extra attention when the Canadiens players undergo physical exams next week.
The players are currently in Phase 2 of the Return to Play Plan, which allows for voluntary small group sessions at team training facilities. While some teams have as many as 20 players on site already, there are only 10 players skating in Brossard and four of them — Laurent Dauphin, Charles Hudon, Noah Juulsen and Michael McNiven — have spent more time in the minors than the NHL. Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron were joined this week by Carey Price, captain Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher and Jordan Weal.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020