Marlies expect to return to the ice on Wednesday and resume their AHL season on Saturday
If all goes according to plan and COVID-19 no longer looks ugly, the Toronto Marlies will be released from their two-week quarantine and can return to the ice on Wednesday.
They will have some practice before their revamped AHL season resumes Saturday at the Coca-Cola Coliseum against Belleville.
“Like everyone else who is isolated, they can’t wait to get out,” said Marlies general manager Laurence Gilman, who also had to self-isolate. “You don’t understand the mundane things in life, let alone hockey, when you can’t leave your house. It’s been a good year for everyone. It has been a year like no other. “
The Marlies’ journey through self-isolation due to COVID exposure began on the evening of April 13, when a member of the team – no one says if it was a player, from a trainer or staff member for confidentiality – called to say he was feeling sick with COVID-like symptoms.
The Marlies were supposed to travel on April 14, starting a five-game, 11-day trip.
Under federally and provincially approved return-to-play protocols that allow the Maple Leafs and Marlies to play in Toronto, each member of the Marlies organization receives two COVID tests each morning. One is the rapid antigen test, the results of which are known more quickly but are less reliable, the other a PCR test that digs deeper into the nostril. The treatment takes a day but the results are more reliable.
Indeed, the test of this person on April 13 came back positive the next day. The trip was canceled. Marlies players and staff have gone through seven days of self-isolation, allowed to leave their homes only to take their daily COVID tests.
Another member of the Marlies organization came back positive on April 15. The quarantine was extended to 14 days on the recommendation of Toronto Public Health, Leafs medical director Dr. Noah Forman, and Marlies team doctor Dr. Greg Rutledge.
“We were very fortunate that the protocols that were put in place relatively contained and prevented a significant outbreak,” said Gilman. “No one who tested positive was sent to the hospital. We haven’t had a lot of cases. Everyone cooperated.
The players had to stay in shape. The team’s physical coaches offered home workouts. The coaching staff had video meetings in small and large groups.
“We had a system in place to provide them with meals when they showed up for their COVID tests,” Gilman said. “There were strategy sessions. Our coaches have used it as a way to get players to work on improving their game. ”
Marlies’ management had to work out a new schedule with the AHL. Six games have been postponed due to the 14-day quarantine. Five were postponed, one canceled. They now have 13 games to play before their season ends on May 20 – six against Laval, four against Belleville and three against Manitoba.
The Star has learned that the AHL Canadian Division will not have a playoff. Sportsnet reported the same.
“I have been incredibly proud of our players and staff for the way they have performed in these really strange and difficult times,” said Gilman. “Everyone handled it with dignity and grace. In a strange way, I feel like our group is getting even closer.
If Marlies players needed a boost, they took it in with the word that their NHL brethren will help supplement their already low salaries, which have been cut by more than half due to COVID-19 .
“I can’t say enough about our players, how caring they are about their community, how generous they are with their time,” said Gilman. “When I was informed that this was happening, that the (Leafs) players were taking it upon themselves to compensate the Marlies players who were affected by prorated salaries, I was incredibly touched.
“But based on our group, I’m not surprised. It is an amazing thing to do.