The Covid-19 test results the Sabers collected on Tuesday had expired under laws governing cross-border charter flights and the required molecular test results take 5 to 6 hours. Cole Burkhalter, the Sabers’ director of team operations, and Kyle Kiebzak, manager of hockey technology and team operations, had a backup plan.
With training canceled in St. Louis on Thursday, the Sabers boarded their buses for a 75-minute drive to Plattsburgh, NY, where another plane would take them to their destination. In Plattsburgh, the airport had only one employee doing multiple jobs, and the conveyor belt broke twice. Some items had to be loaded by hand.
“I don’t know if all these years I’ve been in this situation where you’re on the pavement, you’re on the bus, and then you’re back at the hotel where you’re going to another airport,” Adams said.
The aircraft had different specifications than those the Sabers typically use for charter flights. The seats were closer together — Tuch joked that some of the taller players on the team had to adjust to the cramped seats, including himself — but the engine started and the team went to St. Louis.
With 30 games remaining, the Sabers have been managing a Covid-19 outbreak, a situation that saw only one healthy, game-ready goaltender on the NHL roster and a string of false-positive Covid-19 tests in Phoenix. The team ended up missing a practice that would likely be canceled due to the non-Covid illnesses and everyone was back on the ice with a travel story by Friday morning.