Sean Couturier in COVID protocol; Kevin Hayes, 2 others may be back when Flyers face Kraken

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The latest on Flyers' COVID-19 situation as West Coast trip looms originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Time will tell who the Flyers have and don't have available when they head to Seattle for a matchup Wednesday night with the Kraken.

Right now, in line with the realities of COVID-19 times, player and staff availability could very much be a day-to-day deal for the Flyers and clubs across the NHL.

Mike Yeo and company were able to return to Flyers Training Center on Sunday following the NHL-mandated holiday break. The Flyers had an optional skate, with some players utilizing the day to travel back to the area and undergo COVID-19 testing.

In the late afternoon, the Flyers announced that Sean Couturier entered the NHL's COVID protocol on Tuesday, the day the Flyers had their final pre-break game postponed because of COVID-related issues affecting the Capitals. On Sunday, Ryan Ellis and two club staff members were placed in COVID protocol. Ellis had already been out as he's rehabbing from a lower-body injury.

The Flyers entered the break Tuesday with three players — Kevin Hayes, Morgan Frost and Max Willman — and two staff members in COVID protocol.

Yeo believes the Flyers will have Hayes, Frost and Willman for Wednesday's game against the Kraken (10 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

"I do know that those guys, I believe, are ready to come off the COVID list," the Flyers' interim head coach said Sunday. "I’m not 100 percent sure on that, I want to be careful what I say here, but my expectation is that these guys will be available for us. We’ll know more on that tomorrow."

Among those three heading into the break, Hayes appeared to be the only one with a dicey status because he was the latest to enter COVID protocol. The second-line center was pulled at the start of practice Monday.

With the NHL enhancing its protocols to combat the rising concerns over the coronavirus, teams now conduct daily rapid tests. If a player tests positive, lab-based RT-PCR testing is used as a follow-up to determine a confirmed positive or negative. Sunday was the first day back for testing following the break.

According to the NHL's COVID protocol document from the start of this season, if a player tests as a confirmed positive but is asymptomatic, he will undergo daily lab-based RT-PCR tests. And if the player has two or more consecutive negative tests, he is eligible to exit his isolation and return as long as it adheres with local health laws.

If a player tests as a confirmed positive and is symptomatic, he must remain out for at least 10 days from when he originally felt symptoms, as well as at least 24 hours from his last fever.

With Couturier's status for Wednesday, it's unknown if the first-line center is symptomatic or not. When the Flyers practice Monday and Tuesday, the team's overall picture of availability should be clearer.

Update: With pandemic 'raging right now,' more absences and a lot to sort out for Flyers

"With the change in the schedule, what we determined was we would keep today basically just an optional," Yeo said earlier Sunday afternoon. "Have some guys come in, guys that were here, if they wanted to. Obviously they would have to test. We have a number of players that still haven’t tested. We will have an update as far as the player list, the list of COVID protocol, shortly after some time this afternoon.”

In other availability matters, Derick Brassard (hip) skated Sunday and is "getting very close" to returning, Yeo said. Entering the break, the Flyers were hopeful about his return for Wednesday.

The Flyers (12-12-5) open their four-game West Coast road trip with a back-to-back set. After facing the Kraken on Wednesday, the Flyers visit the Sharks on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

"Coming out of a break, we've got to make sure the conditioning is there, the timing is there. There's always things that you want to do to make sure that the skills are sharp," Yeo said. "But that said, we've got two quality days of practice that we want to make sure that we are really hammering the systems. Some of the things we've already talked about it. Whether it's things that we want to introduce, we want to make sure that the repetition is there for the players.

"We're trying to build habits here and that's not something that's easily done by showing a video or by working it one time. Habits come from doing it and the repetition of doing it. I'm anxious to get that. We'll have a good plan in place these next two days to make sure that we really cover the things that are going to be important for us going forward."

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