Here are today’s links, news, and notes, with more COVID stories than I’d like to include:
- The omicron variant is spreading quickly across North America, and Ontario announced some restrictions yesterday, including reducing capacity for sporting events to 50%. It’s not as if the Ottawa Senators were selling out games anyway, but limiting capacity still can’t be a good thing for them or any team. Obviously government officials need to do what’s safe for everyone, so hopefully this is the right move.
- According to Elliotte Friedman, the NHL has announced enhanced protocols for all of the teams. Changes include restrictions on indoor dining, more masking and distancing in club facilities, and daily testing (except on days off). With the number of cases rising everywhere, it’s better for the league to be proactive.
- The Belleville Senators had their game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last night postponed due to an unclear amount of positive tests.
- Jakob Chychrun’s name has been brought up again in trade rumours via Elliotte Friedman. He’s signed for 3.5 more seasons at an extremely reasonable rate of $4.6M. He’ll be a UFA at the end of that, but Ottawa would have several guaranteed seasons of him if they acquired him. Arizona would be asking for several top prospects (non-Sanderson division), so I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Still though, when a 23-year-old first-pairing defenseman is on the market, you have to inquire.
- Ben Bishop announced his retirement on Tuesday after 2.5 years battling a right knee injury. The 35-year-old hadn’t played since the 2020 playoffs and was under contract until 2023. The former Senator finishes his career with 413 games and a whopping .921 SV%. He ends his career earlier than he wanted to, but he leaves a solid legacy behind.
- The Florida Panthers added five players to the COVID-protocol just one day after playing the Senators. Sam Bennett and Radko Gudas are two prominent players considering both of them were getting close to other players during the game. All players are vaccinated of course, but it would be a shame if Ottawa had another outbreak.
- The Chicago Blackhawks have reached a settlement with Kyle Beach. I’m sure the details will never come out, but I’m just glad Beach will be getting something. Not that anything will ever be enough, but this is better than nothing.
- Drake Batherson has been on one of the hottest streaks that a Senator has had over the past decade or so. He has 16 points in his last 8 games, including a 6-game point streak and 4 points on Tuesday. This stretch even made the NHL Twitter account wonder if he is playing well enough to captain the Atlantic Divison for the All-Star game.
- Long-time Senators conditioning coach Chris Schwarz is leaving the organization in February. Schwarz has been with the team since 2009, and it appears there has been no reason given yet. He’s been a staple on the team for so long and he has obviously been very loved, so it will be sad to see him go.