Barracuda suspend remainder of preseason due to COVID protocols

The team will not face Tucson as scheduled and all team activities have been postponed.

The San Jose Barracuda have released a statement following the suspension of their preseason game against the Henderson Silver Knights last night prior to the third period.

During the San Jose Barracuda/Henderson Silver Knights preseason game last night in Las Vegas, the team received lab results that indicated one Barracuda player had tested positive for COVID-19. Per American Hockey League protocol, the remainder of the game was cancelled.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Barracuda are postponing all team activities for the next several days, including the team’s scheduled preseason game tomorrow vs. Tucson.

We will provide further updates as they become available.

Last night’s game saw two periods of play, during which the Silver Knights were up 1-0. The teams came out onto the benches for the third period, but returned to their locker rooms and an announcement was made that the game would not continue due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols.

Early suspicions would’ve pegged Henderson as a potential source of the issue, as the Vegas Golden Knights borrowed their AHL affiliate’s coaching staff last week while the NHL coaching staff was under protocol themselves. The Silver Knights verified last night that the protocols were not due to a positive test on their side.

Because the AHL is still in the preseason, the rest of this game, as well as the scheduled game against the Tucson Roadrunners, will not be rescheduled. The ‘Cuda are scheduled to open their season officially on February 5 against the Roadrunners.

The larger concern — aside from general fears and anxieties around the effects that COVID has on the body, as evidenced by the Minnesota Wild’s Marco Rossi announcing yesterday that he is still recovering two months after a COVID diagnosis — is that the San Jose Sharks sent down nine players to the ‘Cuda, eight of whom were in last night’s lineup.

As mentioned earlier, COVID-19 protocols shut down the Golden Knights for several days, forcing their series against the Sharks to be rescheduled. Those unexpected few days off allowed the team both some cap relief and a chance to get some reps in at the AHL level by sending down forwards Jeffrey Viel, Fredrik Handemark, Joel Kellman and John Leonard, defenders Nicolas Meloche, Brinson Pasichnuk and Jake Middleton, as well as goaltender Alexei Melnichuk. Forward Rudolfs Balcers was also assigned to the ‘Cuda for a conditioning stint. Kellman was the only player not in last night’s lineup against Henderson.

It’s unknown which player on the team tested positive or if any of those players were in close contact (aside from ... playing two-thirds of a hockey game with them). Instead of getting in extra ice time during this break, they may land on the COVID-19 protocol list.

The Sharks are also scheduled to play on February 5, on the road against the Anaheim Ducks. They currently have just 20 players on the roster and four on the taxi squad. They can still ice a full roster, but the team has just six defenders and two goaltenders, which won’t be sustainable for long.

The AHL has cancelled nine preseason games so far due to COVID-19.