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Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

“Zero Symptoms”

If Edmonton Oilers coach Dave Tippett was the standard for the state of COVID regarding his team and a five-game road trip that is supposed to begin in St. Louis Wednesday, the Oilers could toss their bags on the jet right now and head for the Show Me State certain they’d be ready to play.

Of course, Tippett isn’t, and the Oilers can’t. With the Omicron variant surging and situations seemingly changing by the hour around the NHL and the world at large, the Oilers can’t say for sure whether they’ll be cleared to face the Blues in the next 24 hours or who’ll be able to play if the game does come off.

Tippett, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan McLeod and Devin Shore just returned from COVID protocol and will be ready to go if there’s a game Wednesday. Darnell Nurse, Jesse Puljujarvi and William Lagesson won’t be back for that game. Forward Zack Kassian was put into isolation Sunday. 

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Omicron spreads so rapidly, likewise different situations and the protocols, what I’m writing as of this minute could be out of date an hour or two after this is posted. What we do know is there’s great range in the impact this variant has on those infected. No better example than Tippett, who is 60, but said yesterday when the Oilers returned to the ice to skate, he wasn’t hit hard.

WHAT HE SAID

Oct 1, 2021; Everett, Washington, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett watches play against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Angel of the Winds Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

“Zero symptoms,” Tippett said. “I would have never known I had COVID if I hadn’t tested. Nothing. It was complete surprise to me that I tested positive. It’s concerning for everybody but, as I talked to our guys one by one, nobody was really sick.

“You’re trying to understand what’s going on and making sure everybody is all right but, on the other side of it, we have a lot of people sitting here who are asymptomatic. I felt like I was sitting there twiddling my thumbs. You felt like you could be doing a lot more, but that’s the way it is right now.”

The Oilers have had four games postponed – three against California teams and a game in Calgary today. Up next, games in St. Louis, New Jersey, Long Island, New York and Toronto. The status of every one of those games is literally hour-to-hour. The Oilers have to get across the border first, and that’s no small feat given the need for mandatory testing and quarantines.

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“That’s the main factor we have,” Tippett said. “The border is a critical thing for us. Going and coming from either side, the tests you have to have and whether you’re leaving people behind.

“Talking to the doctors, we’ll get through the next day or two here, get through the tests and see where we are with everything. Not just with us but around the league. The guys had great energy (Sunday) and are excited to get back and going, but there is a little bit of a question mark as to when things will get going.”

We’ll see if there’s any more answers today.

Previously by Robin Brownlee