Shayne Gostisbehere had played alongside Ivan Provorov for two days of training camp, appearing poised for a juicy opportunity to start the 2020-21 regular season on the Flyers' first defensive pair.
The 27-year-old defenseman then suddenly missed the final two on-ice days of camp — which included the club's intrasquad scrimmage Sunday — as he was listed as "unfit to play." General manager Chuck Fletcher was firm in reiterating that status on Tuesday.
Head coach Alain Vigneault on Tuesday had already ruled out Gostisbehere for the Flyers' regular-season opener Wednesday against the Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center. Per league protocols during training camp, the Flyers could not disclose reasons for a player's absence, other than state that the player was "unfit to play."
Unsurprisingly, Gostisbehere did not mysteriously suffer a physical injury. The league announced Wednesday that Gostisbehere and Penguins forward Kasperi Kapanen were unavailable for the opener because of COVID protocol.
Here are further details from the league on COVID protocol:
Beginning today, and continuing for the balance of the season, the NHL will be sharing the names of players who are 'unavailable' to the club (to practice, travel or play in games) due to COVID protocols. Such 'COVID protocol related absences' can be the result of a number of factors including, among others: (1) an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until confirmatory testing is completed pursuant to the positive test protocol; (2) mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals pursuant to the positive test protocol; (3) required quarantine as a high-risk close contact in accordance with the positive test protocol; (4) isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or; (5) quarantine for travel or other reasons as outlined in the COVID-19 protocol.
The last time Gostisbehere was able to practice with the team was last Friday.
The Flyers went with the defensive pairs of Provorov and Justin Braun, Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers, and Robert Hagg and Erik Gustafsson against the Penguins.
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