Friday, November 5, 2021

Schenn returned to St. Louis, Krug added to COVID protocol list

Blues take hit to impact players with center reaggravating upper-body injury; 
defenseman is fifth player put on COVID list; O'Reilly expected to return Sunday

Seems the Blues are going through some adverse times right now despite the successful 7-1-1 start to their season.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Defenseman Torey Krug became the fifth Blues player to be placed on the
COVID-19 protocol list when he was added there Friday.

There was some good news on the team's front, and we'll get to that in a moment, but the Blues did return center Brayden Schenn to St. Louis for further evaluation for an upper-body injury and placed defenseman Torey Krug on the non-roster COVID-19 protocol list while recalling defenseman Calle Rosen from Springfield of the American Hockey League and assigning center Dakota Joshua to the Thunderbirds.

And on Friday night, more bad news came when defenseman Niko Mikkola was placed on the non-roster protocol list, meaning Rosen will be in the lineup Sunday night against the Anaheim Ducks.

Schenn, who was initially injured in the third period of a 1-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, played the third period of a 5-3 win at San Jose Thursday but did not return.

"He got injured a couple games ago (against) Chicago. He came back and tried to play," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "The injury got aggravated yesterday so we decided to fly him home. He's going to see our doctors over the next couple days and we'll reevaluate everything and have an update when the team returns from the road trip."

Schenn has six points (three goals, three assists) in nine games this season.

As for Krug, who has eight points (two goals, six assists) in nine games, he becomes the fifth Blues skater to go on COVID protocol, joining Brandon Saad, Ryan O'Reilly, Kyle Clifford and Ville Husso.

It means Krug will miss the remainder of the trip, Sunday at Anaheim, Tuesday at Winnipeg, Nov. 11 at home against Nashville and Nov. 13 at Carolina and could possibly return Nov. 14 at home against Edmonton. 

"I think that the people that have had COVID that I've talked to haven't had many symptoms, so that's the positive is that the vaccine seems to be working and the symptoms that the players are getting are very minor," Armstrong said. "I think in today's world, it's very difficult to put a curb on it that society's open now. Our players are doing the best that they can do, but I think it's just a reality of today's world that if you test every three days, you're going to catch people, and asymptomatic people are going to get caught in the web."

Saad has since returned the past two games, and the good news is that O'Reilly is expected to return Sunday against the Ducks.

"Yes he is back. His quarantine period is over," Armstrong said of O'Reilly. "He's with the team now and skated today, I believe, and I think he'll be ready to play on Sunday, which is a real positive with 'Schenner' going out. I thought the guys did a yeoman's job of that. Robert Thomas had a fantastic game last night, which was great to see. Sometimes opportunity is created by different ways and it was great to see a guy like Robby take full advantage of that. I thought Tyler Bozak's best game was last night too so our depth is being tested, but the guys are rewarding their teammates with really solid play."

Rosen, who had a goal and four assists in seven games in Springfield, joins the Blues on the road trip as the seventh defenseman, was a bit of a surprise recall instead of 2020 Hobey Baker Award winner Scott Perunovich, who has 10 points (two goals, six assists) in six games with the Thunderbirds, but Armstrong explained why.

"That's cap-related," Armstrong said. "A COVID injury is basically viewed like a sprained ankle or any other injury. There's no cap relief, so with Krug, Husso, Clifford, there's no salary relief. It's a cap reason, and one of the (other) reasons that Scott can't be here is because of his contract. The bonuses in his contract are so high that when you start the season on LTI, not only the face value of the contract goes against the recall and it's all potential bonuses. When you're creating these contracts, everyone's aware that it does have ramifications on recalls and this is one of the ramifications of having excessive bonuses in your contracts."

Perunovich carries a a cap hit of $925,000 but has a $1.3 million performance clause in his contract raising his average annual value to $2.175 million.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Ryan O'Reilly (90), congratulating Jordan Binnington after a recent win,
rejoined the Blues in California and is expected to return Sunday.

The danger for the Blues, who have 20 players with O'Reilly back, is if anyone else joins the COVID protocol list or through injury, they may have to play shorthanded because of cap constraints and no relief from those added to the non-roster list.

"Yeah, we are out of salary cap space," Armstrong said. "Right now, we have 21 players. We're very close to having to play short because of these COVID situations that if we sustain any injuries, we're going to have to play short for the guidelines for the way they're set now.

"... When you have people traveling across North America, I don't see how this is not going to happen. I'm not an expert, but my understanding was the vaccine was put into play to protect you more from having adverse affects to severe reactions to getting COVID and hopefully minimizing the likelihood of getting it but it was never going to make it getting the vaccine and you're removed from the possibility of getting COVID."

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