The Colorado Avalanche might be able to take an extra-large active roster into quarantine for the playoffs. Is it necessary?
The Colorado Avalanche should be about to enter Phase 2 of the NHL’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Players in Denver — all six or seven of them — should soon have access to team facilities. Phase 2 began today.
When the NHL gets to Phase 3, which is training camp, teams will have to start considering their rosters. Once they go into Phase 4, which is the actual playing of the tournaments and playoffs, they’ll have to be in quarantine. So, whatever players they want to have available in case of injuries across a tournament and four rounds of playoffs must be in that quarantine.
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the NHL and NHLPA haven’t settled on a roster size yet.
As you see, the current proposal is for 28 skaters plus as many goalies as the team wants. Teams are traditionally only allowed to have 23 players on the active roster, which includes the two goalies.
Is 28 skaters plus three, four, five goalies excessive? That’s a lot of goalies, and teams never need more than two in the playoffs — goalies will literally play with torn groin muscles before tapping out.
However, we’re not talking about personal injuries here. While physically players will be able to play through COVID-19, they will not be allowed to. They’ll be tested constantly, and a positive result means they go into two-week isolation. Imagine how awful it would be if the disease tore through a team’s goalie population.
About this time, some fans start crying that returning to play is too dangerous for the players and staff, and then I have to point out that shops, hair salons, restaurants, and now even gyms are open. Quarantine is over, moving on.
More from Mile High Sticking
- Could Colorado Avalanche move on from Pavel Francouz next offseason?
- 4 goalies to replace Pavel Francouz if he has to miss time
- Colorado Avalanche make sneaky signing with Tatar
- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog could return in 2023-24 playoffs
- Colorado Avalanche rookie face-off tournament roster
The rationale for having so many players on the active roster is that you can’t “call up” players in the traditional manner. You can dress 20 players, and you must dress 20 players. If players start falling with even non-COVID injuries, teams need someone to dress in their places. Players just entering the quarantine bubble would have to self-isolate for 14 days before being allowed to play.
Even in normal playoffs, a team can’t wait two weeks for reinforcements. In the fast-paced COVID playoffs, they have even less leeway.
You do have to look at it from the players’ perspective, though. A traditional roster of 23 players means three sit out a night. If you have 28 skaters alone, plus a gaggle of goalies, you’re looking at a minimum of eight players a night sitting out.
That’s eight players who have to live in a hotel and the rink, with maybe a foray into a chartered restaurant, who won’t even get to play. That’s eight players who might not see their families for a few weeks without the chance to even set foot on the ice during game play.
Would players be willing to do that? I’m going to guess the answer is a resounding yes. A thread among teams is how much the players see it as a brotherhood. They love the camaraderie of their team.
And they’d be salivating at the chance, however slim, to play playoff hockey. Or, at this point, any hockey at all.
For the Colorado Avalanche, I would expect the extra players would be comprised of their regular healthy scratches, Mark Barberio and Kevin Connauton, along with Colin Wilson if he’s recovered. That would put the roster up to 23 (minus the goalies, which are freebies). I’d also expect Martin Kaut, a random oldie such as Jayson Megna or TJ Tynan, and maybe AJ Greer or Sheldon Dries (who’s almost a random oldie.) You’d add Conor Timmons and Bowen Byram, maybe Anton Lindholm. Some composition of the above players would make up the additional five skaters.
For goalies, we’d have the three NHLers — Philipp Grubauer, Pavel Francouz, and Michael Hutchinson. The Colorado Avalanche have four other goalie signed to NHL contracts, but I’d really only expect them to bring along Adam Werner beyond the above three.
So, in all, the team’s active roster would probably be 32, with the 28 skaters and four goalies. Is that necessary? If the regular season is any indicator concerning injuries, yes. A resounding yes.