Before the New York Islanders took on the Vegas Golden Knights, two players were added to the Isles COVID protocol list. Both forward Matt Martin and rookie defenseman Robin Salo joined Mathew Barzal on the sidelines for COVID-related reasons.
So why did they go on the COVID protocol list? Was this a false positive for either player? Was it a positive-positive? We don't actually know.
New York Islanders: COVID hitting lineup and schedule
It turns out that the Islanders didn't know. According to Barry Trotz, the team wasn't going to get the results back before the start of the game so the team did the right thing and kept both Martin and Salo out. (Got to 3:26 of the video to hear his answer.)
Trotz also states that both could be "false positives". Meaning the team was waiting for the confirmation test to return, and not that they were waiting for the initial POC (point of care) test. That means they tested positive for something, but it's not clear if it's COVID. So again, the team did the right thing to keep both guys out.
Not having the results of the test back in time for the players to play is less than ideal. I understand it's Sunday and puck drop was at 2 PM. The lab processing these results probably isn't operating at its peak and with Omicron spreading as quickly as it is the lab was probably swamped as well.
Postponing games is the right call for the NHL. The Islanders won't be playing the Montreal Canadiens today as previosuly scheduled. That too is the right call. But that decision has more to do with the border. The NHL should consider (and it probably is) shutting down the league for a few days leading up to the Christmas break.
There are only 11 games scheduled between today and Christmas. The Islanders play in one of those games, They face the Capitals at home on the 23rd. It seems like the right call to make for the NHL to just postpone the few games that remain.
Not only are we seeing more and more players (and staff) go on the COVID protocol list, but the impacts of keeping this thing going are being felt in other ways, like two players missing a game because the test wasn't back yet.