Oilers’ Josh Archibald out indefinitely with heart condition

EDMONTON – Josh Archibald’s season has been derailed by, you guessed it, a battle with COVID-19.

After undergoing a battery of tests over the past week, the Edmonton Oilers attacker was found by doctors with COVID-19 antibodies and the heart condition myocarditis. Doctors believe Archibald, 28, contracted COVID-19 sometime this summer, between leaving the Oilers after their round 1 playoff exit and the point where he tested negative on his return to Edmonton in the fall.

“He had a serious viral infection coming out of his quarantine,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said after arriving at Canada’s fortress training camp on Sunday. “What the tests showed is that he had had COVID at some point this summer and he tested positive for the antibodies.

“He’s also been diagnosed with myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, the same condition that affected Oilers’ third-string goalkeeper Alex Stalock as a result of a battle with COVID-19. It has become relatively common for athletes to suffer from myocarditis as COVID-19 makes their hearts vulnerable when they ramp up their training after their illness.

Archibald has not been healthy enough to skate here with his teammates, despite daily negative COVID-19 tests. After doing blood tests, the Oilers doctors discovered that Archibald — who has been posting on social media against vaccination — had contracted COVID-19 at one point.

Archibald was the last player on a Canadian NHL team not to be vaccinated, which would have been very problematic if the Oilers planned to keep him in their lineup. Each time the team crossed the US border and then returned to Canada — 13 times this season — Archibald would have been quarantined for 14 days away from his squad and teammates.

That would have resulted in him missing almost half of the season, as well as a lot of practice time. And with the likelihood of an American opponent once the playoffs started, it never seemed realistic that an unvaccinated Archibald would have been.

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