The Washington Capitals may be dealing with a big problem off the ice as they battle the Boston Bruins in their first round series in the Stanley Cup Finals. Although nothing has yet been confirmed officially by the Capitals franchise, there is now a very credible report that indicates a Capitals player has tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days.
Here's what we know. On Saturday the Capitals were without both forward Evgeny Kuznetsov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov after both men were sidelined as a result of the National Hockey League's COVID protocols. The Washington Posts' Samantha Pell is now reporting that a source has revealed to her that one of those players tested positive for the deadly virus while the other was considered a "close contact" which resulted in him being placed in the protocol as well.
Now I won't speculate on which player may have tested positive and which player was the close contact, however what I can do is share more details that will no doubt lead you to make your own conclusions. On Saturday, just prior to Game 1 against the Boston Bruins, it was announced that Samsonov was taken off of the league's COVID protocols list and the same cannot be said for Kuznetsov. In fact at the time of this writing the Capitals have given no indication of when he is expected to return, again make your own conclusions.
Although Kuznetsov remains a popular player in the Washington market, there is no question that a long list of off ice problems have resulted in at least a segment of the Capitals fan base growing tired of his behavior. Kuznetsov was placed into the COVID protocols on May 4th after both he and Samsonov were disciplined by the Capitals, discipline that caused them to miss a matchup against the New York Rangers. On top of that there was a now infamous incident back in January that resulted in a number of Capitals players, including captain Alex Ovechkin, being placed into the NHL's COVID protocols and Kuznetsov was among that group of players.
Thankfully for the Russian forward the Capitals were able to overcome the Bruins in Game 1 in spite of him being absent, but I suspect that if this trend continues there will be more and more fans in Washington that quickly lose their patience with the talented winger.