By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Bruins winger Ondrej Kase’s strange summer continued on into Phase 4, as the trade deadline addition was not on the team’s charter to Toronto’s “secure zone,” according to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy.
This is not the update you’d want to hear given Kase’s struggles to get on the ice to this point.
Skating in just six games with the Bruins prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that paused (and eventually canceled) the 2019-20 regular season, Kase remained in his native Czech Republic and away from the team during Phase 2, which saw the team reconnect for small, voluntary group skates at Warrior Ice Arena. Players were not required to return to their clubs for that, but when you’re talking about a deadline add with just six games of total experience, it would’ve helped.
Kase then returned to Boston for the start of Phase 3, but got on the ice with his teammates for just one skate, and that came on what appeared to be an optional skate for the Bruins. Kase was deemed “unfit to participate” throughout every other day of training camp, with word that he was exposed to someone who contracted COVID-19 and had to self-quarantine as a result.
And Bruins president Cam Neely didn’t shy away from his disappointment with Kase, who was acquired from Anaheim in exchange for David Backes, prospect Axel Andersson, and a 2020 first-round pick, not reporting to Boston sooner.
“We knew that some players were going to have to quarantine when they got here, you’d kind of hoped they would have gotten here a little earlier,” Neely admitted. “But we really didn’t have any say in that. That was really left up to the players,” said Neely. “Obviously with what has played out and transpired, you would have hoped that some different decisions were made.”
Missing the team charter has led to absences in Toronto, too, as Kase was among three players, forward Nick Ritchie and captain Zdeno Chara being the others, missing from Monday’s practice. And with Kase still out, Jack Studnicka remained the team’s right-side threat on Boston’s second line with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci.
But the problem isn’t just with Monday, really, as Kase missing the team charter will require a flight of his own to Toronto. Whether that’s commercial or a private ride is up to Kase, but it will come with an additional four-day quarantine all the same. That, depending on his arrival and assuming there are no setbacks, could see Kase miss some of the B’s round-robin games. If that happens, you’re talking about Kase potentially playing just one game before the start of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It’s just not the sample the Bruins were hoping for, especially considering Kase’s lack of a solidified spot in this lineup.
The 24-year-old wing has totaled seven goals and 24 points in 55 games between Boston and Anaheim this season.