MONTREAL — Ryan Strome is in COVID-19 protocol and will not be available for the Rangers’ first of two games in Canada, on Saturday against the Canadiens, the team announced Friday.
At the beginning of the season, the Rangers confirmed that the team had been 100 percent vaccinated. It is possible, however, to test positive for the coronavirus despite being vaccinated, especially amid the emergence of the Delta variant.
In order for NHL teams to enter Canada, members of each team’s traveling party are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result conducted within 72 hours of departure time of their flight.
Strome’s designation to the protocol doesn’t necessarily mean he tested positive for the virus. There’s a possibility Strome did have a positive result, but it also could’ve been an inconclusive test or that he was deemed a high-risk close contact to someone who has contracted the coronavirus.
According to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-22 season, fully vaccinated players who test positive or inconclusive and are asymptomatic may continue to be tested daily with lab-based RT-PCR tests during their period of isolation. If a player has two or more consecutive negative tests, a club’s physicians, in consultation with infectious disease experts (and if it’s allowable under applicable local health regulations), may apply to the NHL Chief Medical Officer and the NHL Players Associations’ Chief Medical Consultant for an early exit from isolation.
It is unclear if Strome traveled with the team to Canada.
Head coach Gerard Gallant said he isn’t harping on the team’s 0-1-1 start but, rather, looking for his players to compete as they did in the second and third periods against the Stars on Thursday.
“You can’t worry about the wins, you got to worry about the way you play,” Gallant said. “I really liked the way we played [Thursday night]. The first was sort of a wash period, but after that I thought we played really well.”
“Going in there saying we’ve got to win, we go to play well and when you play well you usually win.”
The Rangers are playing in Canada for the first time since the 2019-20 bubble playoffs, in which they were swept in the qualifying round in three games by the Hurricanes. After facing the Canadiens on Saturday, the Rangers will head to Toronto for a Monday game.
Following those games, the Rangers will play at Nashville before returning to Canada for a matchup at Ottawa.
The Rangers recalled Greg McKegg from AHL Hartford in wake of Strome’s designation to COVID-19 protocol.