Sharks’ Brent Burns placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol

SAN JOSE — Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol Monday, joining a staggering number of players league-wide who have had to begin isolation away from their respective teams over the last several days.

The Sharks said the move to place Burns in the protocol was effective Dec. 17, the date of the last Sharks’ practice. Burns participated in that practice at Sharks Ice and the team had Saturday and Sunday off.

Burns is the only Sharks player to test positive so far this month. Sharks coach Bob Boughner said he spoke to Burns Saturday and Sunday and added that the 2017 Norris Trophy winner “feels fine.”

“He’s obviously frustrated because he wants to be able to do everything and work out,” Boughner said of Burns.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced Sunday that two Sharks’ scheduled home games this week, with the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, would be postponed amid cross-border travel concerns.

While the Sharks had to play without several regulars for a two-week stretch because of COVID, Boughner feels the NHL is now postponing more games because of absent players, giving those teams the break his team never received.

The Canucks have six players in the protocol, and the Oilers have seven.

“We had to play missing eight, nine guys and we had to make do with calling guys up and playing games that were worth valuable points,” Boughner said. “This was our chance to maybe play Vancouver and Edmonton with them being a little bit short-handed and that’s not going to happen.”

As of midday Monday, 43 games had been postponed and 130 players and coaches had been added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol since Dec. 13.

“It sucks,” said Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson, who tested positive for COVID more than six weeks ago. “There’s not much else you can say about it. It is what it is and not surprised that it’s happening the way it’s happening.”

Burns has played in 627 consecutive games, the third-longest active streak in the NHL behind Philadelphia’s Keith Yandle (951) and Arizona’s Phil Kessel (929). Burns, who has 17 points in 30 games this season, has played in every Sharks game since Nov. 21, 2013.

The Sharks’ next game is scheduled for Dec. 27 in Anaheim against the Ducks. Since Burns was placed in the protocol on Dec. 17, that potentially opens the door for him to return without missing a game.

NHL players in the protocol can end isolation if at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, and at least 24 hours have passed since their last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and other symptoms have improved.

After they play the Ducks, the Sharks have home games on Dec. 28 and 30 against Arizona and Philadelphia, respectively.

Burns leads the Sharks in average time on ice at close to 26 minutes per game.

“If (Burns) ends up missing any games, that’s going to suck for us because he’s a big part of our team,” Karlsson said. “But we’re going to do what we can with the guys that we have, which is what we have been doing all year long. So it’s not going to change anything for anyone in that room, myself included.”

The Sharks had multiple players ruled out over protocols earlier this season as seven players plus Boughner became unavailable on Oct. 30, the day of a game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Cogliano and Jonathan Dahlen later exited protocol, having falsely tested positive, but winger Matt Nieto and defensemen Karlsson, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Radim Simek, and Jake Middleton remained. Forwards Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc also later tested positive for the coronavirus. joining the five other players who were unavailable.

Nieto, Karlsson, Vlasic, Simek, and Middleton all missed six Sharks games and Meier and Labanc missed five games. The Sharks went 3-2-1 during the outbreak.

“I think you can do whatever you want. At some point, you’re going to end up getting it anyway, so I don’t think it really matters what you do,” Karlsson said. “I think that we’ve been extremely cautious here. I think that shows. Last year we only had one guy getting with (Tomas Hertl).

“This year I think it doesn’t matter what team you are, it’s unavoidable.”

PRACTICE NOTES: The Sharks had 18 players at practice Monday — 10 forwards, six defensemen, and goalies Adin Hill and James Reimer. Boughner said his plan is to have the team practice on Tuesday and Wednesday and be off Thursday, giving the team four days away from the rink.

Not on the ice Monday were forward Andrew Cogliano and assistant coach John Madden. Boughner said Cogliano was given a personal day but is expected to return to practice Tuesday, and Madden traveled home to be with his family and will rejoin the team on the morning of the 27th.

TRANSACTIONS: The Sharks assigned forwards Jasper Weatherby and Jayden Halbgewachs to the Barracuda, which plays road games with the Colorado Eagles on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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