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Capitals fined $100K for breaking COVID protocol; Ovechkin, Kuznetsov among absences

[UPDATE: Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette expects the quartet to miss at least four games.]

Mark down the Washington Capitals as the first team the NHL fined for breaking COVID protocols. Specifically, the NHL fined the Capitals $100K for “player violations” stemming from “social interactions among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings.”

If that wasn’t already bad enough news for the Capitals, big names landed on the NHL’s COVID-related protocol absences list. Four Capitals are currently listed: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and Ilya Samsonov.

Capitals statement: ‘Disappointed’ in players breaking COVID protocol

Both the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin made statements regarding players breaking COVID protocol.

The Capitals stated that they are “disappointed” in the players breaking protocol.

Our training staff has worked extremely hard to create a safe environment for our players and staff to be able to compete this season. We are disappointed by our players’ choice to interact in their hotel room and outside of team approved areas. We accept the NHL’s decision and once again will reiterate the COVID-19 Protocols in place to make sure the players are in full compliance moving forward.

Ovechkin apologized for socializing in a hotel room situation.

I regret my choice to spend time together with my teammates in our hotel room and away from the locker room areas. I will learn from this experience.

Neither Ovechkin nor the Capitals mentioned the exact date or time of those interactions.

So far, the Capitals faced the Sabres on Jan. 14 and 15, then took on the Penguins on Jan. 17 and 19. As of this moment, the Capitals are still scheduled to face the Sabres on Friday (Jan. 22).

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.