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Ristolainen Discusses His COVID Experience

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Sabres defenseman opens up to Finnish news

New Jersey Devils v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

With no Buffalo Sabres players left on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, things have been starting to look up for the team, at least in terms of getting players back on the ice. However, a recent interview from Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and a Finnish news outlet reminds us all of just how serious COVID-19 can be, as Ristolainen details some of the symptoms he’s been dealing with.

The full article (in Finnish) can be found here.

In it, Ristolainen discusses how he had chest and heart pains, low oxygen levels and exhaustion while dealing with COVID-19. Perhaps one of the most alarming quotes is one in which he essentially says that some nights, it was so bad that he didn’t know if he would wake up in the morning.

He also discussed how he is still facing exhaustion, sleeping 12 hours a night and feeling as though he only slept five minutes, and how even doing small tasks is still incredibly taxing.

The 26-year-old defenseman appeared in both Sabres games against the Devils on January 30 and 31, which sparked a chain of events that led to nine Buffalo players and head coach Ralph Krueger all ending up on the league’s protocol list. Ristolainen skated in nearly 27 minutes and just over 28 minutes in each of those games, respectively.

He did not travel with the team on their current road trip, which isn’t surprising given what we know now. It’s clear that he will need more time to recover, and there’s no way to tell how long it will take before he’s back in game shape. Head coach Ralph Krueger said Ristolainen needs more time to build up his energy.

Of course, the top priority here should be his health and safety; the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still uncertain, and it seems to impact everyone differently. Even in the short-term, its effects can be severe, as Ristolainen shows.

In the past week or so, we’ve learned that several Sabres players tested positive, and each seemed to have varying levels of symptoms:

  • Taylor Hall tested positive but was asymptomatic.
  • Curtis Lazar lost his senses of taste and smell & also dealt with fatigue and congestion.
  • Casey Mittelstadt was mostly symptom-free, aside from congestion.
  • Brandon Montour said he had a “tough couple of weeks.”
  • Jake McCabe was symptomatic for five days.
  • Ralph Krueger battled symptoms for a week.