David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase did not practice again for the second straight day, with coach Bruce Cassidy saying they remain “unfit to participate” and not much more.
Pastrnak’s agent J.P. Barry told The Athletic that his client has tested negative for the coronavirus but that he’s under quarantine because he came in contact with someone who had tested positive. As to where Pastrnak came into contact with the infected, Barry did not have that answer when contacted by the Herald.
NHL clubs have been forbidden by the league to give any information out in these instances. The uber-secrecy is no doubt in place to protect players’ privacy during the coronavirus pandemic (as if there could be some shame attached to contracting the virus), but the approach is inviting rampant speculation, particularly in regard to Pastrnak and Kase.
There has been a photo circulating on social media of the pair working out at a local rink and there were internet reports that they were seen in the North End over the weekend.
Cassidy said he’s not on social media and did not know anything about the photos. He didn’t know much about their whereabouts after returning to Boston prior to the beginning of Phase 3 on Monday.
“If the league allows them to work out on their own, I’m OK with them trying to get their conditioning where it needs to be,” said Cassidy. “What are the parameters of it? Are they near people who are at risk? Are they social distancing? Are they doing it the right way? That’s the term I’ll use, doing it the right way to prepare yourself, then I’m OK with it. If they’re not and they put themselves in harm’s way, then obviously that’s not a good thing. I don’t want to judge Pasta or Kase without knowing all the facts of what happened before they got here. I know they travelled through Europe, and like a lot of guys, they had to quarantine or separate from the team or have x amount of negative tests. If it’s just about having negative tests and they’re allowed to go about their business, then they’re allowed to go about their business. If they weren’t supposed to, then they shouldn’t be doing it.”
Cassidy said he wasn’t aware of the league disciplining the pair — you’d think he’d have been informed of that if it was the case — and the club is not, either.
“This isn’t personal discipline against those two guys,” said Cassidy. “If anything, if you’re out that long, you almost have to go the other way and get them up to speed. That’s not the case. We’re not disciplining anyone right now on our team for any individual action This is all “unfit to participate” right now. I’d love to tell you something different or better, but that’s what they’re listed as right now.”
Pastrnak and Kase did not participate in the first two days of practice because, it was believed, they had to fulfil quarantine requirements. On Wednesday, Pastrnak returned to practice with a small group of players (most of the regulars were given a maintenance day) and Kase skated with Trent Frederic after that larger session. Both Pastrnak and Kase have been out of commission since Thursday, but players that they skated with on Wednesday have been able to practice.
Meanwhile, Joakim Nordstrom joined the “unable to participate” crew on Friday. Cassidy said.
“Hopefully, he’ll be back (Saturday),” Cassidy said.
Bjork bumped up
With Pastrnak remaining out, Anders Bjork again took his spot on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Cassidy likes how Bjork’s shot has progressed, but there are other things he needs to work on to see top line duty.
“Right now he’s up there because David’s out,” said Cassidy. “He’s played there before, it’s good to play with good players. You can always learn from them, specifically with how to protect the puck. Those are the things we’re trying to get him to do. Even in the scrimmage today, we saw opportunities for him to move it quicker, protect it, and it gets turned over in a hurry and goes the other way. There are good defenders in this league and they always see good defenders, that line. That’s one area where he has to have a better understanding of the game.
“As for once we have a full group, could he go on the third line? Absolutely. He’s played well with Charlie Coyle. When the season paused, he was the odd man out to certain extent for a couple of reasons. A, we had some new bodies that we wanted to get in the lineup to look and, B, I thought his play wasn’t bad by any means, but I thought it had levelled off a little bit. So we were going to create a little competition. And we never saw the end result of the competition and how it would affect Anders. Would he step up his game when he got back in there? But the last 12 games never happened. So there was a bit of a plan in place for him, too.”
Around the boards
Frederic skated with the team for the first time on Friday. … At the end of Friday’s practice, Cassidy put his charges through some on-ice conditioning for the first time.