The National Hockey League, like almost every professional sporting league across the planet, is feeling the wrath of COVID-19 at the moment. Over 60 NHL players have entered COVID-19 protocols in the past four days and multiple games have been postponed.
Those postponements are going to continue in a big way for three teams in particular. The Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, and Florida Panthers will all be sidelined until next week. Calgary, Colorado, and Florida will be sidelined from now through the entire Christmas break and will not play again until December 27.
Additionally, @Avalanche and @FlaPanthers games also will be postponed at least through the scheduled completion of the League's Holiday Break on Dec. 26. https://t.co/uwKuHkEhJw pic.twitter.com/d8r558IcCa
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 17, 2021
The Avalanche were given the option by the league to postpone their game Thursday night, but the players voted to go on even though they played down two players against the Predators. They lost the game 5-2 in Nashville and lost four players to protocol on the same day to give them five total absent.
The Panthers also played Thursday as they fell to the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 and now have seven players unavailable. The Flames have not played a game since December 11 and have 19 players, three coaches, and 10 staff members unavailable.
In Calgary, Flames medical director Dr. Ian Auld said the Flames had three confirmed cases of Omicron "My suspicion is if there's three there's more, if not all." Expects more news in 48-72 hours. "I've never seen transmission on this level."
— Marisa Ingemi (@Marisa_Ingemi) December 17, 2021
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the NHL still does not plan to pause the entire league. Although LeBrun reported this, he put emphasis on “as of this very minute” as this situation continues to grow like a snowball rolling downhill in an avalanche, no pun intended. Patrick Johnston from the Vancouver Sun reports that some teams may push back on any sort of pause because games over the holidays tend to be big money-making opportunities.
The league implemented “enhanced protocols” on December 15, but with the Omicron variant already present it may be too little, too late.
Amidst the call for enhanced protocols and the seemingly never-ending absences from lineups around the league, Thursday’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers was played in front of an empty arena in Montreal. The Habs stated that they received a request from Quebec public health officials to do so and accepted that request.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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