Game Preview: Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche 12/16/21

The show must go on...?

Despite the Nashville Predators having seven players (as of right now), as well as five coaching staff members and at least two other team personnel, in COVID-19 protocol, their game against the Colorado Avalanche tonight is currently scheduled to go on. Assistant coach Dan Hinote, who would have been leading the team, was placed into protocol this morning, as was forward Nick Cousins. The Milwaukee Admirals' staff, including GM Scott Nichol, has been called up to help the parent club out.

Eight players out due specifically to COVID-19 seems to have been the tipping point for other teams; Matt Duchene, out with an upper-body injury, is status unknown for tonight. Mikael Granlund, Ryan Johansen, Philip Tomasino, Ben Harpur, Michael McCarron, Matt Luff, and Cousins are also unavailable.

The Preds have recalled Rocco Grimaldi, Cody Glass, Mathieu Olivier, and Cole Smith from the Admirals, as well as Nichols, head coach Karl Taylor, and assistant coach Scott Ford.

The Colorado Avalanche are a great team, also entering tonight on a five-game win streak, and they have the advantage of having most of their roster both available and familiar with each other. Gabriel Landeskog and Devon Toews are the core players currently unavailable—Landeskog with an injury, Toews due to COVID-19.

The fact that the NHL is expecting these two teams to play tonight, when Hinote's addition to protocol was announced at this morning's media availability and Cousins's not until after that, is deeply concerning. Fourteen people who work for the Preds are currently isolated to try to prevent them from spreading a highly contagious airborne disease; if I were an Avs player, staff member, investor, or fan I'd be very displeased that this game is still on. It's certainly possible that there are currently asymptomatic players on the Preds' roster who haven't yet tested positive for COVID-19 but are contagious. We still don't know the long-term effects—years and decades into the future—of surviving COVID-19, or whether an asymptomatic infection reduces or eliminates those risks. Meanwhile, in the short term, even mild or asymptomatic cases have resulted in long COVID.

The fact that the NHL is exposing both the Avalanche, by expecting them to play the Predators tonight, and potentially the Milwaukee Admirals (and their opponents), depending on how the recalled players and staff are released to the AHL again, is a deeply questionable choice.

The game will air at 7 PM Central on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.