Krebs, Tuch and Bjork enter NHL's COVID-19 Protocol

It's not known if the Sabres will have enough players to play Thursday's game against the Sharks
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – With the current spread of COVID-19 within the Buffalo Sabres locker room, head coach Don Granato doesn’t even know if his team can practice from day-to-day, yet alone play a game on Thursday night.

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Right before Tuesday’s practice, Granato found out that forwards Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch and Anders Bjork entered the NHL's COVID-19 Protocol, joining forward Kyle Okposo, as well as defensemen Jacob Bryson and Casey Fitzgerald.

Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju was going through more testing, so his health status is pending.

Things have gotten so bad that even with the injured Colin Miller returning, Granato didn’t have a full roster for practice on Tuesday.

“It’s crazy and it’s scary all in one, because this is the craziness that we’re dealing with the roster every day," Granato said. "It's inside our bubble, and then you think about it, people are getting sick everywhere and that’s scary.”

It is already quite clear that this situation with COVID-19 isn’t anything like what teams around the NHL went through last year.

“We’re all going through it for the first time to this level," Granato said. "It wasn’t like this last year. We didn’t have this many days where you’re waiting, trying to do a practice plan and losing guys an hour before or 45 minutes before or a half hour before. You’ve got to re-adjust immediately.”

Some felt it was surprising the Sabres even practiced on Tuesday with this current outbreak. Granato says he spoke with the players about it before taking the ice.

“You talked to the players and you get a gauge through them, and I asked them to tell me what they think and what they feel," the Sabres head coach said. "I felt our guys were comfortable, but I think everybody is sitting back and waiting, and they’re nervous about it. But when it becomes time to work, they want to work.”

In order to get through last week, the Sabres had to call players up from the Rochester Americans, but Krebs and Fitzgerald are now in COVID-19 protocol. As for bringing up more players, Granato currently feels torn.

“That’s the tricky thing, every time you think about bringing somebody in, you’re thinking what is somebody bringing in with them?," Granato said. "You have a taxi squad, but do you want to use it for fear you’re bringing people in from the outside?”

The good news is forward Jack Quinn returned to practice on Tuesday in Rochester after a bout with mononucleosis. Amerks head coach Seth Appert thinks Quinn will be able to play Wednesday night's game against the Syracuse Crunch.

There’s a lot to deal with for everybody in society about this, and Granato says you deal with it on a day-by-day basis.

"I have full confidence that whatever is dealt to us," he said. "We’re going to make the best circumstances out of it. I feel that our staff and our players with the attitude and the outlook is in a good place, so when adversity happens, we don’t dwell, we don’t pout, we don’t whine and you don’t see players come in here and make excuses. The mindset is perfect for handling situations such as this.”

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If there is a game on Thursday, Granato knows, for sure, he won’t have Okposo, Tuch, Krebs or Tuch up front. There’s a chance Bryson could test out of COVID-19 protocol by then. Keep that in mind when you see the lines.

Tuesday’s lines:

Forwards:
Skinner – Thompson – Hinostroza
Girgensons – Cozens – Hayden
Murray – Jankowski – Caggiula
Asplund – Eakin – Olofsson

Defense:
Dahlin – Pysyk
Butcher – Miller
Prow

Featured Image Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty - USA TODAY Sports