Red Wings shutdown; GM Steve Yzerman asks why NHL still testing asymptomatic players

steve yzerman covid testing
From left: Ken Holland, Steve Yzerman and Christopher Ilitch at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on April 19, 2019. Wings Conference2

The NHL on Sunday shut down the Detroit Red Wings through Christmas after the team’s COVID-19 outbreak grew to nine players.

This coming off the heels of comments made by Detroit GM Steve Yzerman wondering why the NHL is still testing asymptomatic players.

“At the end of the day, our players are testing positive with very little symptoms, if any symptoms at all,” Yzerman said Saturday. “I don’t see it as a threat to their health at this point. So I think we need to take it a step further and question why are we even testing guys that have no symptoms?”

Yzerman on Red Wings COVID situation

red wings covid
Nov 1, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Bashill looks on during the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Detroit Red Wings 7-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit announced Sunday that forwards Sam Gagner, Pius Suter and Joe Veleno were placed in the COVID-19 protocol as well as assistant video coach Jeff Weintraub.

The Red Wings previously had players Robby Fabbri, Alex Nedeljkovic, Michael Rasmussen, Carter Rowney, Givani Smith and Filip Zadina in protocol. Fabbri and Rasmussen were placed in protocol on Wednesday and Nedeljkovic, Rowney, Smith and Zadina entered protocol on Saturday.

Also, head coach Jeff Blashill and assistant coach Alex Tanguay were placed in protocol on Saturday, hours before the Red Wings recorded a 5-2 home win over the New Jersey Devils.

“They’ve been acceptive of the protocols, whether they like them or not is irrelevant,” Yzerman said. “They’ve been willing to follow them. I think ultimately they just want to play and get through this to the best for all.”

NHL shuts down Red Wings

The NHL said it opted for the shutdown “due to concern with the number of positive cases within the last several days.” The league said the players association and Detroit’s medical personnel were involved during the process.

“A decision on when the Red Wings’ training facilities will re-open will be made by the League and the NHLPA in the coming days,” the NHL said in its announcement.

Detroit’s game on Monday against Colorado was previously postponed due to the Avalanche’s outbreak. The Red Wings’ Thursday game at the Minnesota Wild was postponed by the league on Sunday.

Detroit is scheduled to play two games in the New York area next week — Dec. 27 against the Islanders and Dec. 29 against the Rangers.

The NHL has been hit with a flurry of postponements due to outbreaks around the league. It also announced postponements of games that involve border-crossing through the Christmas break.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report