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5 Kings players deemed ‘unfit to play’

Five players were missing from Saturday’s scrimmage, and two players were placed on waivers on Sunday.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Walker (26) skates during the NHL regular season hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, March 9, 2020 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Five players were not present during Saturday’s scrimmage at the Los Angeles Kings’ training camp at Staples Center. Forward Gabriel Vilardi, defenders Kurtis MacDermid and Sean Walker and goaltenders Cal Petersen and Matthew Villalta marked the first absences of the Kings’ camp since it began on Dec. 31.

The NHL’s COVID-19 policy prevents teams from disclosing a coronavirus diagnosis:

Absent prior approval by the League (who shall consult with the NHLPA), there shall be no disclosure by the Club to the media or to the public of information relating to a Player’s positive test result or to a Player developing COVID-19 symptoms during Training Camp. At the conclusion of the Training Camp period, the League can make one announcement stating the total number of Players (without personal or Club identity) who tested positive during Training Camp.

However, comments from Kings head coach Todd McLellan to The LA Times’ Jack Harris seem to hint that the players missing time are due to coronavirus protocols, stating, “The players that didn’t play today were deemed unfit to play, and we’re gonna have to be prepared for that throughout the season, whether it’s now, three months from now, four months from now. That can pop up at any time.”

The Kings aren’t the only NHL team struggling to keep players healthy. The Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins have all had to cancel varying portions of their camps (and for Dallas, a postponement of their season opener) due to COVID-19 exposure among their rosters.

Aside from Villalta, four of the players currently out are expected to make the Kings’ opening roster.

On Sunday morning, the team also placed two players on waivers, for purposes of reassignment to the Ontario Reign. Winger Bokondji Imama and defender Daniel Brickley are expected to start the season in the AHL.