Oilers' Josh Archibald out indefinitely with heart condition

Gene Principe and Mark Spector discuss Oilers' Josh Archibald's diagnosis by doctors of having COVID-19 antibodies and the heart condition myocarditis, how long he may be out this season as he recovers, and what it means for the team.

EDMONTON — Josh Archibald’s season has been derailed by, you guessed it, a bout with COVID-19.

After undergoing a battery of tests over the past week, the Edmonton Oilers forward was found by doctors to have COVID-19 antibodies and the heart condition myocarditis. Doctors believe Archibald, 28, contracted COVID-19 sometime this summer, between leaving the Oilers after their Round 1 playoff exit and the point in which he tested negative upon returning to Edmonton in the fall.

“He had a severe viral infection coming out of his quarantine,” after arriving in Canada fort training camp, Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said on Sunday. “What the tests showed is that at some point this summer he’d had COVID, and he tested positive for the antibodies.

“He has also been diagnosed with myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, the same condition that struck Oilers third-string goalie Alex Stalock, as a result of a bout with COVID-19. It has become relatively common for athletes to suffer from myocarditis, as COVID-19 leaves their hearts vulnerable when they ramp up their training post-illness.

Archibald has not been healthy enough to skate with his teammates here, despite daily negative COVID-19 tests. After doing blood work, the Oilers doctors found that Archibald — who has posted on social media against getting vaccinated — had contracted COVID-19 at some point.

Archibald was the last player on a Canadian NHL team to remain unvaccinated, which would have been very problematic had the Oilers planned to keep him in their lineup. Every time the team crossed the U.S. border and then returned to Canada — 13 times this season — Archibald would have been forced to quarantine for 14 days, away from his team and teammates.

That would have resulted in him missing close to half the season, as well as copious amounts of practice time. And with the likelihood of an American opponent once the playoffs began, it never seemed realistic that an unvaccinated Archibald would have been.

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