New York Rangers Kappo Kakko May Be Sidelined Due to COVID-19 Health Concerns

Mar 10, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) in action during the game between the Rangers and the Stars at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In Thursday’s Zoom press conference, New York Rangers president John Davidson was asked about the health status of Blueshirt forward Kaapo Kakko. The nineteen-year-old native of Finland has diabetes and celiac disease, underlying conditions that put him at risk if he was exposed to the coronavirus.

During the conference video, Davidson stressed that: “If he, hypothetically, cannot play, he can’t play. We’re going to take care of him, he’s a big part of us. If he can play, he’s going to play, and I’m sure he’s going to want to play. But we listen to science, we listen to the medical people, they’re going to tell us what to do.”

COVID-19 and the Diabetes risk for Kaapo Kakko

According to the American Diabetes Association, the problem people with diabetes face is primarily a problem of worse outcomes, not a greater chance of contracting the virus. In China, where most cases have occurred so far, people with diabetes had much higher rates of serious complications and death than people without diabetes. In general, people with diabetes are more likely to experience severe symptoms and complications when infected with a virus, like COVID-19.

This concern, as well as the concern to all Rangers players, was underscored by Davidson’s comments on Thursday. “I know that he’s skating and working out like madmen to try to get ready to come back. I’m sure he’s going to want to play, but at the same time, again, it’s important for everybody to be taken care of regarding their health,”  Davidson also stated that: “It doesn’t matter if you’re a 19-year-old young player or if you’re an older executive. Everything has to be done in the right fashion.

COVID-19 and Celiac Disease

In addition to diabetes, Kakko also suffers from celiac disease, an immune disease in which people can’t eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. The good news is that according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, there have been no studies or reports suggesting patients with celiac disease are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 compared to patients without celiac disease. However, gluten intake will still have to be monitored strictly as with the coronavirus, anything that compromises the health of a person puts them at greater risk.

Remember that comment Davidson made about “everything has to be done in the right fashion”? The New York Rangers and the NHL have been working hard to have this covered. On Monday, the NHL released a 22-page memo outlining the health and safety measures to which teams and players must adhere. The policy covers everything from masks, the number of players allowed at a time in a facility, and cleaning protocols that the Rangers must follow.

“One thing we all have to remember here is, this is a fluid situation regarding dates of when we’re going to have a camp, and when we’re going to play,” Davidson said. “Who knows?