Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on… me?
For the second time during the ongoing pandemic, both Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews have tested positive for COVID-19.
Neither player is 100 percent confirmed, but that information will come over the next 12-18 hours.
On Monday, both Matthews and McDavid missed their team practices. It is not typically an issue when a star player misses a skate, but both players once again were not present for their respective clubs’ practices on Tuesday. And that is where the concern really began.
That said, Wednesday’s battle at Scotiabank Arena between the Toronto Maple Leafs and visiting Edmonton Oilers may not quite be the highly-entertaining, goal-scoring fest that Canadian fans came to love during the abbreviated 2020-21 season. Thanks to the single-season all-Canadian North Division, the Leafs faced off against the Oilers a record nine times last year, to which the Buds went 6-1-2.
McDavid, selected No. 1 by the Oilers in the 2015 NHL Draft, tested positive for COVID on Tuesday and once again did not skate with his teammates. He will be retested on Wednesday, but the outlook is not… positive – well, in a sense.
Matthews, chosen No. 1 by the Maple Leafs in the 2016 NHL Draft, tested positive for COVID via a rapid test on Monday, but he garnered a negative PCR test on Tuesday. He, too, will be retested on Wednesday, with a much better chance of seeing a positive… err, favourable result.
Toronto has dealt with 14 team members and seven additional staff being forced into the league’s COVID protocols following a recent outbreak. All 21 cleared their tests and were available to the team on Tuesday.
“We’ll have to wait on that at this point is although for tomorrow. He is not ruled out,” said Leafs’ coach Sheldon Keefe. “We practised different things here today, preparing in the event that we wouldn’t have Auston just so that we’re not caught off guard.”
Edmonton, which has lost four-straight games, is also no stranger to COVID. With Jesse Puljujarvi and Darnell Nurse amongst a host of Oilers players and coaching staff who have spent time on the COVID reserve list, the inactives continue to grow by the day.
“The way things are going here, just a daily occurrence,” Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said. “When you’re playing as many cities and there’s different rules everywhere you go. We were in New York City, there’s one rule; Long Island, there’s another rule; New Jersey, another. It’s crazy.”
Interestingly, both Matthews and McDavid both have had bouts with COVID in the past. Matthews caught the virus in the summer of 2020, while McDavid tested positive in October of 2020. Both experienced ‘mild’ symptoms.
As Stephen King so nicely wrote, ‘Fool me three times, shame on us both’. Let’s just hope there is no third infection for either of these superstars, no matter how their current test results come back.