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How One Sports Season Fell Apart, Even in a Bubble

  • March 01, 2021

The Whale, who shared a hotel with the Riveters and the Minnesota Whitecaps, believe they can trace their initial cases to a trainer who alternated between the Riveters and the Whale, and a false sense of security when their rapid tests weren’t as reliable — there were several false negatives, according to Whale players — as the PCR tests, which took longer.

The league had developed its protocols in conjunction with the Olympic Regional Development Authority, which operates Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid. Players were to stay in their hotels other than going to the rink, though Instagram and other social media posts from players across several teams seemed to contradict that. Players say they followed the guidance the league gave them, and followed what was enforced.

After the Riveters left, Friesen said, one of the protocols changed from teams having buffet-style meals away from other clubs to eating only in their rooms.

“The state’s partnership with the local health department, along with O.R.D.A.’s operation and oversight of this venue, identified several teams’ failure to follow the mandatory protocols, which contributed to a rise in positive cases, and created an unsafe health condition,” a spokesperson for the development authority said.

Requests for comment to N.Y.U. Langone, the league’s medical partner, were not returned.

Other players felt that the league should have stepped in and stopped the potential spread as soon as there was an inkling of trouble by telling the Riveters to stay home.

“I know if I was on that team, that would have been incredibly heartbreaking to hear, but one team had a positive case right before coming and that would have been the one moment I can think of, honestly, they could have made the choice to not allow them to come,” said one player who requested anonymity for speaking against the league’s decision making.

By the time the Riveters departed, it was too late. From their perspective, they followed the protocols, testing negative before departure and upon arrival. No positive players took the trip to Lake Placid.

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