Blues’ Barbashev leaves bubble, returns home for birth of first child

St. Louis Blues forward Ivan Barbashev. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

St. Louis Blues forward Ivan Barbashev has left the NHL’s secure zone in Edmonton and is heading back to St. Louis for the birth of his first child.

Barbashev and his Blues have played one round-robin game in the bubble so far, falling to the Avalanche on Sunday, and have two more round-robin matches on the schedule — Aug. 6 versus the Vegas Golden Knights and Aug. 9 against the Dallas Stars.

When Barbashev is ready to return to the team after the important time away with his family, he’ll be required to quarantine in his hotel room for at least four days, per the Blues’ release. Past that, the centreman must receive four negative COVID-19 tests before he can eventually return to practice and game action.

“We felt it was important for Ivan to be with us for the first two games of the restart and we were prepared for him leaving to go back to St. Louis to be with [his wife] Ksenia,” said Blues GM Doug Armstrong, per the Blues’ release.

“We wish them both the best and look forward to seeing Ivan back in Edmonton during the first round of the playoffs.”

The young pivot, who’s in his fourth season with the Blues after stints with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats, said he didn’t consider opting out of the NHL’s return-to-play plan given his family’s situation.

“We didn’t even talk about it, (whether) to opt out or not,” Barbashev said, via the team’s release. “It was actually really simple. I’m still 24, I have a full career ahead of me. After winning (the Cup) last year, I want to do it all over again. That feeling has been stuck in me for a long time and you just get even more hungry after winning.”

Barbashev posted 11 goals and 26 points through 69 games during the 2019-20 regular season prior to the league’s shutdown due to the pandemic.

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