The NHL has seen over 16 percent of its rosters (119 players) and five of its head coaches enter COVID-19 protocol recently. The NHL has postponed 39 games over the last week due to the coronavirus omicron variant. Twenty-three NHL teams have at least one player in quarantine.
Several media sources, including The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, are now reporting that the NHL will be suspending its operations starting on Wednesday, December 22.
The NHL’s pause in play will last through December 26 and facilities can re-open at 2 PM that day at the earliest.
Sources tell @DailyFaceoff: #NHL, #NHLPA have agreed to suspend all operations for Dec. 22-25 and will re-open team facilities on Dec. 26 no earlier than 2pm local time. No practice, no testing during those days.
Tuesday’s 2 remaining games will be played – pending test results.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 21, 2021
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman says that players will report back a day earlier than their Christmas break was supposed to last to begin testing again.
Hearing NHL/NHLPA will agree to pause season Wednesday through Christmas Day. Players will return to team facilities on 26th — one day earlier than usual — so that testing can be resumed.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 21, 2021
Per Friedman, players and other staff members will not be able to enter team facilities until they register a negative test result in an attempt to wipe the slate clean with the virus.
According to memo sent to teams/players, schedule resumes Monday, Dec. 27. Also: "Upon return from the holiday break to team facilities, no individual in the team's travelling party shall enter (other than for testing purposes) until they have a negative test result."
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 21, 2021
Andy Strickland is reporting that the NHL’s three-week February break built-in for the 2022 Winter Olympics will be used to play games that were postponed during this current stretch.
Sources confirm the February break in the #NHL schedule, originally for the Olympics, will now be used to play make up games for all games taken off the board.
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) December 21, 2021
Players appear to see the writing on the wall with Olympic participation.
Spoke to a couple of players today about how NHL Olympic participation is likely not happening.
"It's so, so disappointing."
"It just sucks. It sucks that this COVID thing has been as impactful as it has been."
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) December 21, 2021
At this moment, the Capitals, who are without star players Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and TJ Oshie due to COVID-19, are still scheduled to play against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Nine teams had already shut down its facilities through the Christmas holiday break including the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Seravalli reports that almost all the teams have different opinions on how to handle the virus, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning who “desperately want to play” and the New Jersey Devils who asked to the league to postpone its game on Tuesday.
The omicron variant now accounts for nearly three-quarters of all COVID-19 cases in the United States and has caused issues for all the major sports leagues that are currently playing.
Update: The NHL has confirmed Seravalli and Friedman’s reporting and announced the pause shortly after 10 PM on Monday night. The NHL is saying it’s beginning the holiday break early.
The @NHL and @NHLPA have agreed to begin the Holiday Break after Tuesday’s games. Practices will resume on Dec. 26 and the League’s regular-season schedule will resume on Dec. 27. https://t.co/0Bmu8dlZ1M pic.twitter.com/JHbxtzMX6D
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 21, 2021
Per an NHL release:
NHL, NHLPA Agree to Begin Holiday Break After Tuesday’s Games, Resume Practices on Dec. 26, Game Schedule on Dec. 27
Remaining Games Scheduled for Dec. 23 Postponed
NEW YORK/TORONTO (Dec. 20, 2021) – With no games currently scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 22, because of COVID-related postponements, the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association have agreed to postpone the five games that remain scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 23, in order to begin the collectively-bargained Holiday Break effective with the conclusion of games tomorrow night, Dec. 21.
Under the revised schedule, Dec. 22, Dec. 23, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 (Christmas Day) shall be off days for all purposes — including travel.
Players will report back to their Clubs on Dec. 26, which shall be used for testing, practice and/or travel only. Upon return from the Holiday Break to team facilities, no individual in the team’s Traveling Party shall enter the facility (other than for testing purposes) until they have a negative test result. Any practice scheduled for Dec. 26 must begin after 2:00 p.m. local time.
The League’s regular-season schedule will resume on Monday, Dec. 27.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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