27 players from 9 NHL teams tested positive for COVID, including 17 Dallas Stars

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With the 2020-21 NHL season about to begin, the league shared its latest COVID testing results. The NHL announced that 27 players from nine different teams tested positive for COVID-19, including 17 players on the Dallas Stars.

The NHL announced that about 12,000 COVID tests were administered to at least 1,200 players during a two-week period from Dec. 30 – Jan. 11. Along with noting that there will be regular updates, the league stated that players who test positive for COVID will be identified by name once the season begins.

NHL announces 27 positive COVID tests from 9 teams; 17 from Dallas Stars

As you likely know, the Dallas Stars season has already been delayed due to positive COVID-19 tests. Previously, the league announced that six Dallas Stars players and two staff members tested positive.

For the first time since those positive tests, the Stars practiced on Tuesday. Rick Bowness told NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika that 14 Dallas Stars players were out of that practice. It’s not yet clear if the Stars may begin their season on Jan. 19, Jan. 22, or perhaps some other date.

Stars goalie Anton Khudobin described dealing with the disease, which he believes didn’t hit him that hard.

“It’s not easy,” Khudobin said. “I’m telling you right now, it’s not easy. First of all, it’s hard to breathe. I didn’t have it really bad. They didn’t have to put me on an oxygen tank; I was breathing normally. But let’s say you’re going upstairs to the second floor or third floor, you’re going to catch your breath. It’s hard.”

(Khudobin also noted that when “… you’re eating a mashed potato, you don’t know you’re eating a mashed potato.” Perhaps that provides at least some of the flavor of comic relief to you, as this is otherwise grim.)

For what it’s worth, the NHL’s release states that the Dallas Stars are currently “asymptomatic.” (Mashed potato joy = restored?)

Bowness believes “we did everything right last week and we still got hit with this thing.” Such comments only heighten the impression that the NHL has its work cut out for it while trying to manage COVID in a less controlled situation than the playoff bubbles.

Reports indicate Canucks may also be among the teams affected

TSN 1040’s Matt Sekeres reports that J.T. Miller and Jordie Benn won’t be available to the Vancouver Canucks for “a couple of weeks.”

Quite a few NHL teams canceled practices and/or workouts recently due to fears of positive COVID-19 tests. (Most, if not all, of those teams used the phrasing “abundance of caution.”)

Along with the Dallas Stars, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Canucks ranked among those who canceled activities.

Considering the troubling COVID rates in the U.S. and Canada, this figures to be an ongoing challenge for the 2020-21 NHL season.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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