35 NHL players test positive, Nationals suspend camp as sports try to return amid coronavirus surge

Hockey, basketball and baseball still hope to salvage a 2020 season during the pandemic.
Image: 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four
Jaden Schwartz, #17, of the St. Louis Blues and Joakim Nordstrom, #20, of the Boston Bruins battle for the puck in Game Four of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final on June 03, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri.Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

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By David K. Li

Nearly three dozen professional hockey players have tested positive for the coronavirus and the World Series champions shut down training camp as pro sports still try to move forward with a planned re-start during the pandemic, the NHL and the Washington Nationals announced Monday.

The NHL has tested 396 players and 23 were positive, plus the league is aware of 12 other players who have separately tested positive since June 8, officials said.

The league and players union on Sunday night agreed on protocols to start training camps and resume the season. Safety precautions include daily testing once games get under way for players, coaches and staff.

The season was shutdown in the middle of March. The sport hopes to get games started, in empty arenas, later this month or early August before the Stanley Cup is awarded in October.

Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell, left, talks to general manager David Stearns during a practice session Saturday, July 4, 2020, at Miller Park in Milwaukee.Morry Gash / AP

Professional hockey, basketball and baseball all hope to begin play soon to salvage what they can of their coronavirus-interrupted seasons.

MLB teams reported to their home ballparks this past weekend for workouts, moving away from their traditional pre-season training headquarters in the coronavirus hotspots of Florida and Arizona. Those states were ranked first and second in positive test rates over the past seven days, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The World Series-champion Washington Nationals and runner-up Houston Astros both suspended workouts on Monday.

While Nationals players and staff were tested Friday, team General Manager Mike Rizzo said results have been slow to come back.

"We cannot have our players and staff work at risk," Rizzo said in a statement on Monday. "Therefore, we have cancelled our team workout scheduled for this morning. We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families."

The 2017 champion Astros also cited testing delays for their Monday shutdown, though GM James Click struck an optimistic note that "this process will be ironed out and we’ll be back on the field and ready to compete for a championship soon.”

And in Arlington, Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo has tested positive for COVID-19, officials said. He's asymptomatic and at home in self-isolation, team President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels said Monday.

MLB hopes to launch a 60-game season on July 23.