GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich left practice Saturday before or during the scrimmage portion of the skate, but per the NHL’s new COVID-19-inspired injury reporting policy, the team was unable to give an update on why.
“Yeah, under league policy, I'm not allowed to elaborate on injuries,’’ coach David Quinn said when asked after practice about Buchnevich.
When the NHL and its players union negotiated the terms under which play would resume following the coronavirus stoppage, one of the things the players wanted was privacy in regards to the league announcing coronavirus positive tests.
The league announces every Monday how many players have tested positive for the coronavirus but it does not identify those players or the teams they are on. In order to try and hide which players are not practicing or playing because they are COVID-positive, the league has decided not to say whether players have an “upper-body injury’’ or “lower-body injury’’ as has been its previous policy. Instead, players unable to practice because of injury (or any other reason) will simply be described as “unfit to play.’’
Buchnevich, the right wing on the first line with center Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, took part in most of the practice, but at some point during the scrimmage he left to go to the locker room. There didn’t appear to be any particular play or incident on the ice that may have led to any kind of injury. Kaapo Kakko, the 19-year-old rookie from Finland who was the No. 2 pick overall in last summer’s NHL draft, stepped in halfway through the scrimmage to take Buchnevich’s place on the first line, and Brendan Lemieux, who had been rotating in on the fourth line, moved up to fill Kakko’s spot on the third line.
Buchnevich had been enjoying a solid season. When play halted on March 12, he had scored 16 goals, with 30 assists (for a career-high 46 points) in 68 games and was finally beginning to show the consistency in production that he had seemingly lacked in his first three seasons.