Published: October 4, 2021
After doctors in Edmonton discovered Josh Archibald had contracted Covid this summer, they did more tests and have found damage to his heart muscle.
The unvaccinated Edmonton Oilers forward was in his 14-day quarantine after travelling from the U.S., when he started to not feel well. He skated briefly but not with the any of the groups after they hit the ice Sept. 23 for practices/scrimmages
Archibald, 28, went for a battery of medical tests and they discovered he had Covid antibodies and myocarditis. Myocarditis is the same ailment that Oilers third goalie from last season Alex Stalock was felled with last fall in Minnesota. He, too, had come down with Covid, which affected his heart.
Myocarditis, which can lead to cardiac arrest and possible death with the heart rate increasing through exertion, has been found to be an after-effect of Covid in athletes pushing their training before camps.
“The back half of the 14-day quarantine Arch wasn’t feeling well and got a severe viral infection,” said Oilers coach Dave Tippett. “He tried to skate a few days, they did a bunch of tests and the tests showed at some point he had contracted Covid. He got a bunch of blood work done and he’s been diagnosed with the myocarditis. He’s having a CT scan and an MRI this week. He’s out indefinitely until we figure out where we are at.”
GM Ken Holland and Tippett had talked to Archibald before training camp opened to try and change his mind about getting vaccinated. They had laid out the penalty for being unvaxxed; he would have to quarantine for two weeks every time he came back from a U.S., road trip and he could miss 30 or more games because of it, and lose his salary.
Holland said Stalock, who didn’t report to Oilers camp because he was having heart problems back at his home in Minnesota, was out for the 2021-22 season. It’s assumed Archibald and Stalock will go on long-term injury status in terms of the salary cap, joining Oscar Klefbom (shoulder) but that’s the fiscal side of things. The human side is Archibald and Stalock might not play again.
Archibald has one year left on his contract at $1.5 million salary.
“He had no symptoms when he left the team (after playoffs). There was no reason to get tested but they found he has the anti-bodies now. So at some point he got Covid,” said Tippett, who has leaned on the fast, physical winger who can play right or left side, especially on the penalty-kill. “He’s a good player for us, our lead guy on the penalty-kill, so we’ll need somebody to fill his role and right now we have a bunch of people in competition for that.”
Tippett could have Devin Shore maybe take Archibald’s top-dog PK spot and there’s a good chance they sign camp tryout forward Colton Sceviour now.
“He does a lot of similiar things to Archie. He’s a right-shot penalty-killer too, with good experience (500 NHL games). That’s one of the reasons he’s in consideration for a job here,” said Tippett.
Stalock was stunned to find out he had myocarditis last November after first going through a mandated Covid test to enter the Minnesota Wild practice facility. He was feeling perfectly fine at the time but after doctors discovered the Covid in Stalock, they did a cardiac assessment as per NHL rules. Doctors found swelling in the heart muscle.
After staying away from camp and missing the first six weeks of the regular season, the Oilers claimed Stalock off waivers March 1. He never played a game as they rode Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen and seemed healthy. But while he played in the annual Da Beauty League tournament for pros in Minnesota over the summer, his heart issues returned. He didn’t come to Oilers camp.
The Oilers put wingers Cooper Marody, who signed a one-year, two-way contract before camp and Seth Griffith on waivers Sunday to get them to Bakersfield.
This could be Marody’s last kick at the can in the organization. He’s clever with the puck but not good enough to be a top six NHL player here with Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto ahead of him, also not a checker, fourth-line type. He wasn’t used on the power play or penalty-kill during camp. He might welcome a waiver claim.
They also sent Swedish defencemen Philip Broberg and Filip Berglund, partners through four exhibitions, to the AHL farm along with goalie Ilya Konovalov.
At practice Sunday, Shore was centering a fourth line with Brendan Perlini and Kyle Turris on the wings. Ryan McLeod was in the middle of a fifth line with Tyler Benson and Sceviour flanking him. Shore and McLeod are safe as centres and penalty-killers as 10th and 11th forwards. It appears it’ll come down to Benson, Turris, Perlini and Sceviour for the last three spots if they carry 14 Fs and seven D.
“We’re close to our lineup now, we can get more dialled in, and can work on more detail (practices),” said Tippett, who has 26 healthy players — 15 forwards, eight defencemen (William Lagesson is No. 8) and three goalies.