Tuesday marked a watershed moment in the NHL with COVID-19. Twenty-four players (that we know of) ended up in protocol, multiple games were postponed, and players are seriously reconsidering Olympic participation.
The NHL does not make the specific, exact number of positive cases available on its media site anymore so it is difficult to pinpoint if the current bad situation is actually worse. There seems to be a new team announcing unavailable players due to COVID every other hour so it’s clearly a very fluid and ongoing problem.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan spoke to league officials who say there have been no discussions about pausing the season due to COVID cases.
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, doctors from the NHL and NHLPA are however having a call tonight to discuss the latest COVID outbreaks and the potential need to enhance protocols.
Reported players entering protocol
Two teams, the Flames and Hurricanes, are enduring large outbreaks on their rosters leading to the league postponing their upcoming games.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 13, 2021
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) December 14, 2021
The growing list of players being sent to quarantine this season is also sparking conversation among the league’s stars about their participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics in China.
Canadian center and current best hockey player in the world, Connor McDavid told Joshua Clipperton of the Canadian Press that the quarantine period in China is definitely “unsettling”, but would not say today if he’s out of the games due to it.
Another Canadian star center, John Tavares spoke hours later to David Alter of The Hockey News about the same issue, stating “You talk about a five-week quarantine, if you’ve already been over there for a few weeks, that’s a really long time. That’s a long time. That’s a really long time.”
10:33 PM Update:
We will have more in the 2nd intermission of the Leafs/Oilers game. Pending final decision from a medical conf call involving NHL and PA doctors, it’s likely enhanced protocols will be implemented on a League-wide basis for a period of time. Final details being worked out.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 15, 2021
Dreger would continue saying, “Basically, it would be a return to last season’s protocols. May not be indefinite, but a response is required amid a spike in cases across the NHL.”
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