Bruins fans looking for some relief — or the very least clarity — on the status of Boston’s missing skaters once again received more questions than answers Saturday afternoon at Warrior Ice Arena.
While news of David Pastrnak’s quarantine helped explain the absence of Boston’s top scorer for five of the first six days of Bruins’ “Return To Play” camp, Saturday saw a number of other regulars absent from the ice in Brighton — with Charlie Coyle, David Krejci, Torey Krug, Sean Kuraly, Tuukka Rask, Nick Ritchie and Chris Wagner joining Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase as missing skaters from Boston’s latest Phase 3 workout.
Following practice, Bruce Cassidy announced that all nine missing players were placed under the league’s wide-ranging (and vague) “unfit to participate” designation — meaning that their absence could be due to a myriad of reasons, with no additional clarity in terms of when they could return.
As ominous as Boston’s attendance was on Saturday, Cassidy did harp on the fact that players under this “unfit” tab should not be assumed to be sidelined due to a positive test for COVID-19, as was feared for Pastrnak. Some measures could simply be precautionary or with a short time frame for a return. For example, Joakim Nordstrom, ruled out on Friday under the “unfit” label, was back on the ice Saturday with no restrictions.
"We had no injuries to speak of," Cassidy said. "Unfit to play - the league has asked us to continue along that line for the respect of the privacy of the players. So that's what we'll do. There's always different reasons. There's the quarantine rules, there's waiting on test results, there's a number of different things that factor into this. It doesn't automatically assume that we have a positive test.
"We want to get to Toronto as healthy as possible. I guess that's how I would elaborate on that. We hope to have some of these players back (on Sunday). (Sunday) was a scheduled day off, so the group that was on today will not skate (Sunday). We're not gonna change that. If some guys missed and are cleared to skate, then we may go on (Sunday)."
Here are the participants from Saturday’s practice at Warrior:
Marchand – Bergeron – Bjork
DeBrusk – Studnicka – Kuhlman
Nordstrom – Lindholm – Senyshyn
Blidh – Frederic – Carey
Chara – McAvoy
Zboril – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Lauzon
Moore – Clifton
Bruins push back full scrimmage
With so many NHL regulars out of commission for Saturday’s practice, Cassidy and his staff did have to reshuffle their plans when it comes to getting Boston up to speed before heading up to Toronto in a little over a week.
Saturday’s practice — held at 3 p.m. instead of their usual morning skates — was originally scheduled to be a full-squad scrimmage, allowing the club to both adjust to some of the unorthodox starting times awaiting them up in Toronto, while also allowing most of the club to face regular competition in a game-like setting.
While Boston was able to organize a scrimmage with the bodies it had on Saturday, Cassidy did note that it things didn't exactly go according to plan — given the number of regulars that were unable to participate.
From a scheduling perspective, Cassidy believes