By Kaitlyn Riggio
Boston University News Service
Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney addressed the media on Monday evening for the first time since five players were added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
In accordance with league protocols, the Bruins closed their facilities on March 19 after players were added to the COVID-19 protocol list following a matchup against the Buffalo Sabres.
Sweeney said the goal is for the team to return to a practice environment on Wednesday, but there are some “hurdles” to overcome before getting there. These hurdles are notably related to testing protocols.
“Testing protocols will determine whether or not we get back in full capacity or what capacity we get to be in on Wednesday or Thursday,” Sweeney said.
If cleared to return to operations, Sweeney said he feels comfortable with the state of the team, even if the players on the protocol list remain unavailable for Thursday’s game against the New York Islanders.
“You have to put together the roster as best you can,” Sweeney said. “The players that are available have to go out and do the job.”
Players on the protocol list include David Pastrnak, who currently leads the team in goals scored for the season. Also on the list are Sean Kuraly, Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Craig Smith, who all contribute to an offensive depth beyond the top line.
Offensive production, which has already been a weak spot for the Bruins this season, could be further affected if these players are still unavailable this week.
Despite players being added to the protocol list, TD Garden still plans on welcoming fans to the arena at 12% capacity for Thursday’s game against the Islanders.
Sweeney said he is looking forward to having fans in the arena again.
“Just to have people back in the building and cheering for us is going to be a welcomed thing for the players and really for everybody involved,” Sweeney said.
In addition to providing updates regarding COVID-19 protocols, Sweeney also discussed the team’s seven injured players’ recovery. He said all of them had made progress. Not only this, but several are getting closer to returning.
Specifically, Sweeney mentioned that Brandon Carlo has been skating again. Carlo has been out since the March 5 game against the Washington Capitals after being hit in the head by Caps winger, Tom Wilson.
Looking ahead, Sweeney said the overall health of the team will play a role in decisions leading up to the trade deadline.
“We’d like to be healthy and fully evaluate, but that might not be possible,” Sweeney said. “We’re going to follow the medical advice and cross our fingers to a large degree that everybody remains negative, or the people that have to continue to test, and hopefully return with a full group.”