Samsonov was asymptomatic at the time of his positive test, the person said.
Samsonov, Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov were placed on the league’s covid-19 protocol-related absences list Wednesday night. The test triggered contact tracing, which occurred Wednesday morning.
The list does not specify which players tested positive and which are wrapped up in contact tracing. The league does not release the names of players who test positive.
Through the contact tracing process, the team and league learned all four Russians hung out multiple times together in a Pittsburgh hotel room during their trip, according to one person with knowledge of the matter. At those gatherings, which violated NHL protocols, the players watched sports and played video games.
“I know that there was a positive case, and through their tracing and their tracking, the players were honest with what they did,” Washington Coach Peter Laviolette said Thursday.
Ovechkin and Orlov have covid-19 antibodies, Ovechkin’s wife, Nastya, wrote on Instagram on Thursday morning.
“I regret my choice to spend time together with my teammates in our hotel room and away from the locker room areas,” Ovechkin said in a statement Wednesday. “I will learn from this experience.”
The NHL is not expected to postpone Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, which is Washington’s home opener. Ovechkin, Orlov and Kuznetsov are expected to miss at least the Capitals’ next four games because of quarantine protocols.
“All of us are in this together,” Nicklas Backstrom said when asked whether it was disappointing to learn of the violation. “It doesn’t matter if it’s four guys out. We’re a team, and we do everything together, so I think we all take blame in this. But we’ve got to learn from it and be tighter and follow the protocol.”
Washington’s next four games are at home. The Capitals play the Sabres again Sunday, then face the New York Islanders on Tuesday and Thursday.
Local officials and medical professionals establish the guidelines that players follow in cities and states. All four players missed practice Thursday.
“I don’t think it’s a distraction,” T.J. Oshie said of the players’ absences from upcoming games. “We know that those guys want to be here. They want to be in the lineup, and they feel terrible that they’re not and they put themselves in a situation that they’re not going to be playing with us.”
The NHL’s coronavirus guidelines make it clear that players and team personnel who travel this season are “required to stay in a single occupancy room, and no individual shall permit guests or other personnel in their room.”
The Capitals were fined $100,000 for the violations, which the league said “involved social interactions among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings.”
“We’re a team that happens to be very close and likes to be together,” Oshie said. “We’ve just been reminded that there’s rules in place to keep everybody safe. We just have to follow those all the time.”
Players are prohibited from practicing or playing while they are on the protocol-related absences list.
There are a few ways that a player who tests positive can be cleared to return to the team, according to NHL protocols. If he is asymptomatic and remains that way while he is isolated, he can return 10 days after his first positive test. If he is symptomatic or becomes symptomatic during isolation, he can be cleared when at least 10 days have passed since the date his symptoms appeared and at least 24 hours have passed since his last fever. He also can be cleared if he tests negative twice and his condition improves.
The Capitals recalled goaltender Craig Anderson to the active roster and added prospect Connor McMichael to the taxi squad Thursday after it was clear Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Orlov and Samsonov would be absent.
Laviolette said center Brian Pinho, who was on the taxi squad as of Thursday afternoon, probably will make his regular season debut Friday night. Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler is also expected to make his first appearance of the season, taking Orlov’s spot on the blue line. Forward Conor Sheary, who has been a healthy scratch the past two games, is also expected to be in the lineup.