John Marino’s stint on the NHL’s COVID protocol list was fortunately brief.
The 23-year-old defenseman, who was placed on the list Wednesday and was held out of Thursday’s practice, was back on the ice Friday morning in Cranberry. Marino will presumably be available for Saturday’s game on Long Island.
Marino was the first player the Penguins placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list during the regular season. When an NHL player is added to that list, it does not necessarily mean that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Coach Mike Sullivan hinted Thursday that Marino’s placement on the list was precautionary.
“Players are on that list for a number of different reasons,” Sullivan said.
That Marino quickly cleared the COVID protocol was a relief from a personal health standpoint but also a competitive one for the Penguins, who relied on him to play more than 30 minutes in Monday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers.
Marino, as of Thursday night, was one of 41 players representing 11 of the league’s 31 active teams that had been placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list. And five teams have gone on a COVID-related hiatus in the past two weeks.
One is the New Jersey Devils. The Penguins were supposed to play them twice this week but those games were postponed. With 17 Devils players still on the COVID protocol list Friday, Tuesday’s game in New Jersey is expected to be postponed, too.
The Penguins, even with this week’s minor scare with Marino, have so far been one of the NHL’s better teams at keeping a handle on COVID-19 by trying to adhere to the NHL’s continually-evolving health and safety NHL’s protocols.