In what has been a tough day for the health of many athletes and the outlook for a safe return to sports, one of the most impressive talents in the NHL has joined the list of athletes to test positive for coronavirus.
The Maple Leaf's Auston Matthews, selected first overall in the 2016 draft and ranked third in the league in goals when the season was suspended, has reportedly tested positive (via Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun). Simmons adds that Matthews' teammate, goalie Frederik Andersen, did not test positive despite living with Matthews in Arizona for much of the hiatus.
Matthews joins three Tampa Bay Lightning players who were all announced to have tested positive on Friday. Earlier in the month, a Pittsburgh Penguins player was reported to have tested positive, as well.
McKenzie additionally noted that because the current phase of the NHL's return plan, Phase Two, is strictly voluntary, "the players aren't locked down from the public in any way." Florida and Arizona, two states which have been hit especially hard with recent surges in case numbers, are understandably two of the states in which NHL players have tested positive.
Whether or not these tests throw a wrench in the NHL's return plans remains to be seen. All sports leagues are eventually going to have to confront these possibilities; today, the Phillies of Major League Baseball had five players test positive for coronavirus at their Clearwater, Florida spring training facility. The NFL and the PGA Tour announced positive player tests today, too.
With cases popping up frequently and numbers reaching new, concerning highs, a safe return to sports is more uncertain now than ever.