The St. Louis Blues pretty much have their lineup set for the 2020 NHL playoffs. However, an interesting personal situation will toss a wrench into that certainty.
The St. Louis Blues basically know who their 12 forwards are going to be when they head to Edmonton to defend their Stanley Cup. However, the old saying goes there is nothing certain but death and taxes.
One of the forwards the Blues would have written in pen is Ivan Barbashev. He’s a feisty competitor with skill enough to score some goals and enough physicality to be second on the team in hitting.
Unfortunately for the team, but fortunately for him, Barbashev’s wife is scheduled to give birth right around the time when the playoffs start. The timing would normally be great, since there is no hockey going on in August under a normal circumstance.
In typical 2020 fashion, the timing could not be worse from a purely sports perspective. Given the expected schedule for the birth, Barbashev will actually go to Edmonton for a few days and then return home.
“Barby will be coming with us on the trip,” said Craig Berube, as reported by Tom Timmermann. “He will be available for the exhibition game and one round-robin game, maybe two, and he asked to go back home for a personal reason because his wife is having a baby.”
Adding a member to your family is always a great occasion. Yet, if it could have been a few days earlier or perhaps a week or two later, it would have been more beneficial for the Blues.
It would not impact the team as much if things were a little more certain. The only certain thing is that Barbashev is going to leave the bubble. That is really what causes the problems.
While he is a pro athlete, just the travel across international borders puts things up in the air. Worst-case scenario, he would be refused re-entry to Canada, causing his return to the team to be delayed even more.
Even without travel restrictions, Barbashev will have to pass a couple stages. When he returns, he will have to be in isolation.
Per the NHL’s protocols, he will then have to nest negative on four consecutive tests in four days. Timmermann reported that the league would have the option to keep him out longer if they deem him to have been in a dangerous situation.
This would seem unlikely, but given the odd climate we are in you never know. Whoever makes that decision could say that being in a hospital exposed him to more disease than normal, keeping him away from the team for an arbitrary amount of time.
The Blues having to decide on another player to play in his spot for a couple round-robin games is the least of their worries. Not knowing when he could return alters a lot of potential decision making for Berbue.
For now, it seems Mackenzie MacEachern will just slide into that role. Personally, there are a couple players I’d rather see get a chance to play, but MacEachern has history behind him, having played in last year’s playoffs.
As fans, all we can do is hope for a safe and healthy birth for the Barbashev family. Once that happens, the rest will fall into place, one way or the other.