Auston Matthews positive for COVID-19 on rapid test; Leafs will await PCR result

·1 min read

Toronto Maple Leafs star centre Auston Matthews was held out of Monday's practice after testing positive for COVID-19.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe said Matthews and assistant coach Dean Chynoweth, who also wasn't part of the on-ice session, produced positive results from their rapid antigen tests after arriving at the team's facility in the morning.

Keefe, who said both were asymptomatic, added the Leafs will now await PCR test results expected early Tuesday.

The club initially called the absences "precautionary" on Twitter, but did not provide further details. 

"There have been some instances where those rapid (test) positives have been false," Keefe said on a post-practice video conference call with reporters. "That's why at this point it was just precautionary. 

"We'll await confirmation." 

Toronto has been working through a COVID-19 outbreak that saw 14 players and seven staff members placed in the NHL's coronavirus protocol at its height. Leafs defenceman Timothy Liljegren, who returned to practice Monday, was the only player still in isolation when Toronto beat the visiting Ottawa Senators 6-0 on Saturday.

Matthews is coming off an outstanding December that saw him named the NHL's first star of the month after putting up 10 goals and four assists in seven games. 

The 24-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 in June 2020 at home in Arizona while the 2019-20 season was suspended due to the pandemic. 

The Leafs are set to host the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. Toronto's home game scheduled for Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes was one of a number of contests postponed by the NHL due to arena capacity restrictions in Canada. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2022. 

The Canadian Press

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