The Washington Capitals were fined $100,000 by the NHL on Wednesday for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols, with four players placed on the COVID-19-related list of unavailable players. Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin appeared to take responsibility for the outbreak, but now his wife, Nastya Shubskaya, is firing back against the notion that her husband and the rest of the team’s Russian players should be held accountable.
Shubskaya posted a message on her Instagram story, in Russian and English, taking umbrage with the notion that Ovechkin — along with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov — could’ve only tested positive while congregating in the same hotel room.
“Of course, only Russian players of Washington Capitals were together in the same hotel room. Of course, all of the other NHL players, when playing away, separating themselves from their teammates. Of course, you can’t catch the virus when you and your teammates sit on the bench, hug each other when they score a goal, or when they are all together in the lounge or locker room,” Shubskaya wrote in a message that appears to be dripping in sarcasm.
Shubskaya raises several good points and though we don’t know exactly what transpired within the Capitals’ organization, it’s difficult to argue about individual responsibility when the NHL and NHLPA rejected the concept of a bubble for the 2021 season despite it being an unqualified success from a safety perspective this summer.
Through the opening week and change, the NHL is already facing several COVID-19 related cases. The Dallas Stars have yet to begin their season after 17 players tested positive for the virus, while the Carolina Hurricanes have had at least two games — and counting — rescheduled due to COVID-19 cases.
The pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon and though it’s easy to cast blame on individual athletes, it’s a microcosm of a thoroughly unsafe format for the regular season. One can only hope these incidents are isolated, in light of an effective, safe way to play hockey.
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