The epicentre of the NHL’s coronavirus breakout appears to be in Ottawa, by way of California.
Four more members of the Ottawa Senators’ travelling party have tested positive for and recovered from COVID-19, the team announced on Wednesday.
Sources indicated to TSN that three players and one team staff member tested positive. All four were on the club’s trip to California that included stops in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles before the NHL paused the 2019-20 season on March 12.
That brings the total to seven NHL players to test positive for COVID-19 – five of them being Senators players, along with two members of the Colorado Avalanche.
"Members of the team and staff self-isolated on March 13 and all are doing well," the Senators said in a statement. "All test results have now been received and all those who tested positive have recovered."
The Senators were the first team to play in San Jose on March 11 after Santa Clara (Calif.) County recommended a ban on large-scale gatherings being held in the area.
Four days later, the Sens played the final game before the NHL hit pause, facing the Kings at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The night before, the Lakers hosted the Brooklyn Nets – a roster that has since had four confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus – in the same building.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman previously indicated that the virus may have spread as a result of a shared facility with an NBA team.
The Senators flew back to Ottawa from Los Angeles on March 12. The team reportedly sat on their chartered plane for extra hours as the league’s pause caused the team to re-route from Chicago back home to Ottawa.
Senators players and team staff would have spent nearly eight hours in close quarters on the plane, from boarding to deplaning in Ottawa.
The first Senators player reportedly started exhibiting symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus shortly after returning from California, with the club announcing the first positive test among players on March 17. TSN 1200 broadcaster Gord Wilson also announced that he tested positive.
Six other players – along with numerous other team staff members from around the league – have now tested positive in the two weeks that have followed, a trend the NHL expected.
Now, with various local, provincial and statement governments announcing bans on public events stretching well into June, the NHL continues to monitor directives in an attempt to hopefully formulate a plan to resume the season.
The City of Toronto banned all large events through June 30 on Tuesday – though the edict does not include professional sports – while the Commonwealth of Virginia, home to the Washington Capitals’ practice facility, placed a similar ban through June 10.
"We are keeping track of all the local developments relating to stay-at-home directives, social distancing and the like," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Wednesday. "They will obviously be very relevant, if not determinative, as to what we can do, and when we can do it, as it relates to resumption of play alternatives."
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli