WJC Notebook: How Team Canada is moving forward during pause

Scott Salmond, Senior Vice-President of National Teams, Hockey Canada discusses what it's been like for the Team Canada players while staff members tested positive for covid-19 and how the team is rallying around each other during the process.

Hockey Canada addressed the pause in its world junior selection camp Thursday, via a Zoom call with media.

Here’s some of what we learned:

Terminology matters
• The Red Deer camp experience is being conducted in a protective environment

• the 2021 World Junior Championship will be played in a secure bubble

Key Dates
November 29: Anyone who tests positive after this date will be automatically eliminated from the competition.

December 6: Anyone who plans on being inside the Edmonton bubble must be with the group and provide three negative results from COVID-19 testing before being admitted into the bubble.

December 7: Expected first day of return to practice

December 13: Teams/staff are required to enter the Edmonton bubble

December 20: First day of scheduled exhibition games.

December 25: Tournament begins

January 5: Championship game

Exhibition games upon completion of the quarantine remain uncertain.

The time off will surely serve Cole Schwindt, Dylan Cozens, Braden Schneider and Tyson Foerster well as they were banged up and out of action at the time of the pause.

It will also be a blessing in disguise for Xavier Simoneau and Ridley Greig who were late arriving to camp.

The three NCAA players, Alex Newhook, Devon Levi and Dylan Holloway, will participate in team activities for the first time when the quarantine ends. Since all three came from US cities, they had to respect the original 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Red Deer.

Mental health concerns
HONE, a company based in Calgary, has worked in conjunction with Hockey Canada Mental Performance Consultant Ryan Hamilton. Players access an app that poses a daily questionnaire, which is anonymously monitored by Senior VP of National Teams Scott Salmond and Head Coach Andre Tourigny to determine if a player or staff member requires any support or assistance. The app also provides counselling independent of Hockey Canada, should it be required.

To pass time in their rooms players will lean on video games, virtual poker games, quizzes and other activities as suggested by the group. Workouts will also be held via Zoom, with the goal of getting stationary bikes and other equipment into each of the players’ room.

The question of if a player could be cut and sent home coming out of quarantine was neither answered with a "yes" or "no."

Bubble hockey
In order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, federations will enter Canada via private charter planes. Each international 40-person cohort will have to quarantine for seven days, test negative three times before leaving, and be subject to daily testing for a period stretching from December 6-20.

Each person will be required to remain in their room for a period of five days while testing takes place and before the resumption of any team related activities.

Each person in the bubble will have access to the Clear app for daily self assessment as well as temperature checks. Trace-safe will also be in effect so that the whereabouts of every person in the bubble will be known at all times.

Once the bubble entry period begins, there will be two dedicated hotels; the Sutton Place and the J.W. Marriott. Both are adjacent to Rogers Place.

The hotels will play home to Hockey Canada event staff, IIHF staff, all 10 federations, on-ice officials and the official broadcast partner. Level 1 accredited personnel (players and staff included) will only be able to go from their hotel to the rink and back. No one will be allowed outside of the three-building bubble during the event.

A total of 40 members from each federation are allowed into the bubble. This will typically mean 28 players and 12 staff members. Roster size for the event is 25 players. Canada will likely use the 14 forward, eight defence, three goalie combination to get to 25.

There will be no access for NHL scouts, families or fans. Media policies and participation have not yet been identified.

Other notes
• The door for Alexis Lafreniere has not been closed, as conversations between Hockey Canada, the New York Rangers and Lafreniere and his advisors are ongoing. According to Salmond, Lafreniere is currently in New York, and that would present a mandatory quarantine from whenever he leaves New York City. Keep in mind, he must arrive by December 6 and show three negative test results before entering the Edmonton bubble on December 13.

• The non-core member who originally tested positive had three negative COVID-19 test results before entering the protective environment.

• There is no known direct link between the infected non-core member and the two players who tested positive for COVID-19.

• Assistant coach Michael Dyck and goalie coach Jason Labarbera were already in quarantine at the pause and will complete the 14-day requirement on December 5.

• As of Thursday evening, no player or staff members were symptomatic.

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