Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton and Derek Forbort formally entered the COVID cone of silence Monday, shortly before the 7:08 p.m. faceoff in Washington, and now both will have to find their way home to Causeway St.
Keeping to league protocol, infected players must be segregated from traveling with teammates, leaving both backliners on the ground when the Bruins’ charter flight headed back to Hanscom Field in Bedford late Monday evening.
For Forbort, that means returning from Tampa, where he popped a positive test following Saturday’s 5-2 win. Clifton made it to Washington on Sunday’s charter flight, but tested positive the next morning.
“They could have driven home right away,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, chuckling as he explained each player’s circumstances. “But for Forbort, that would have meant a 24-hour drive as opposed to sitting by the beach, right?”
A handful of Bruins players were forced to drive home from Buffalo last spring, the club’s first scrape with COVID realities abruptly postponing a game against the Sabres.
“Sometimes you catch a break,”” continued an amused Cassidy. “You get it in Buffalo, you have to drive; you get it in Florida and … he’s going to stay there. Once you’re cleared, he’ll continue to test … [be cleared to travel] and then he’ll get a flight home. What flight, I’m not sure yet.”
Clifton was in a “little different” situation, according to Cassidy.
“Being here [in DC], he could probably jump on a train or get an Uber,” the coach surmised. “It’s not quite as bad. But I’m not sure how that will work out. We don’t expect Forbort to drive and I am not sure about Clifton. At the end of the day, it’s unfortunate. "
Both players, noted Cassidy, were not experiencing COVID symptoms.
To cover their losses on the backline, Charlie McAvoy returned to action after missing two games to a lower-body injury, and John Moore again spotted in from the taxi squad.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.