Hurricanes prepare to resume season Thursday after COVID-19 outbreak

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes will resume their season Thursday when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, SUN, NHL.TV) after four games were postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Forward Jordan Staal, who said he tested positive for the virus on Jan. 15, practiced Tuesday and is expected to play, but forwards Teuvo Teravainen, Jesper Fast, Warren Foegele and Jordan Martinook, and defenseman Jaccob Slavin did not practice and will not play. Each is in COVID-19 protocol.

“There’s a lot of concerns,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Tuesday after their first full practice since closing their facilities Jan. 19. “No. 1, you’re missing a lot of guys. It wouldn’t matter if we had been playing all along, that would be a huge concern. You add in the fact that [the healthy players] have been sitting around, we try to do the best we can. The conditioning level goes right out the window very quickly when you’re not on the ice every day, so that’s a concern. But you’ve got to deal with it. The excuse jar is full.”

Forwards Morgan Geekie, Steven Lorentz and Max McCormick, and defensemen Jake Bean and Joakim Ryan, who are on the taxi squad, practiced with Carolina on Tuesday. The Hurricanes will consider recalling another forward from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.

“That’s what happens when these types of things arise, there’s opportunities for somebody,” Brind’Amour said.

The Hurricanes have not played since a 4-2 win at the Nashville Predators on Jan. 18. The players were not able to skate during the pause but managed to maintain some level of fitness on their own.

“I have a bike and a couple dumbbells and bands,” forward Sebastian Aho said. “You can always find a way to get your work done, it’s just a matter of will. But there’s no excuses. We just have to get the work done and get the legs going again.”

Brind’Amour noted that it is difficult to determine the best way to prepare after an unexpected layoff.

“It’s a tricky thing,” he said. “Do you just jump them into the fire or do you ramp it up because you don’t want any injuries associated with kick-starting them? We’re not going too hard out of the gate, but definitely, let’s go. The clock is ticking.”

Staal said he spent several days in his hotel room after testing positive following Carolina’s 3-0 season-opening win against the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 14. He said his symptoms were limited to 24 hours of chills.

“There’s never really one point to know where you got it from,” Staal said. “None of my family got it. It’s just one of those things that seemed to happen. I beat myself up about it enough, so I’ve kind of let it go.

“I felt good today. It’s good to get back on the ice with the fellas, just get back in the routine.”

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