Believe it or not but the KHL’s plans to start the 2020-21 season are still on track, despite dozens of reported COVID-19 cases across the pro hockey league in Russia.
In fact, KHL Avangard Omsk has confirmed that they themselves have 20 active COVID-19 cases. Read this report below from KHL insider Aivis Kalnins:
Bob Hartley and his Avangard Omsk team has ran into trouble with 20 members of staff and players testing positive for Covid-19.
Statement from GM of Avangard Omsk Alexei Volkov: ”Since the start of the training camp our team was regularly tested. After these tests yesterday we were made aware that a large group of our players and staff have tested positive. Everyone has been isolated, however, most of them are asymptomatic. Everyone’s condition is being monitored by medical services. Those that have tested negative will have to undergo more testing.”
Teams training camp now has been put on hold. Avangard Omsk has also announced that they won’t be traveling to ”Sochi Hockey Open” where they were supposed to play exhibition games from August 4th – 9th.
”We are deeply sorry that due to the epidemical situation we had to make this hard decision. We consulted with the coaching staff and we decided to keep our team under a strick isolation regime in Balashika with strick medical overseeing and regular testing. The safety of our players and successful preparation are our main targets at this time”* the GM added.
On July 16th Omsks’ forward Sergei Shumakov tested positive. On July 17th it was announced that 13 members of Spartak Moscow were also tested positive for Covid-19.
For what it's worth, Avangard Omsk boasts a ton of former NHL talent including head coach Bob Hartley, former Vancouver Canucks forward Reid Boucher, Boston Bruins forward Alexander Khokhlachev and Montreal Canadiens forward Jiri Sekac.
There are currently no plans to change the KHL's September 2nd start date, but with one team boasting 20 COVID-19 cases and another with 13... let's get real... there's no way this season starts on time. What will happen when all the players congregate for games? We're going to see an explosion in cases from 33 to potentially hundreds.