NHL, NHLPA agree to pause season through Christmas, effective Wednesday

·2 min read
The Toronto Maple Leafs is one of nine teams in the NHL that is shut down as of Monday due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The Toronto Maple Leafs is one of nine teams in the NHL that is shut down as of Monday due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association have reached an agreement to pause the season through Dec. 25, effective Wednesday.

Two games slated for Tuesday are still set to go on as scheduled.

The league and NHL Players' Association on Sunday said in a joint statement they were attempting to avoid a leaguewide shutdown and were making decisions on a team-by-team basis. The latest shift gives all 32 teams an extended break before players, coaches and staff can gather again Sunday to skate and undergo coronavirus testing.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the Christmas break typically prohibits team activities before Dec. 27. Games are still scheduled to resume that day.

When team facilities reopen, anyone travelling with a team must first show a negative COVID-19 test result before they can access a facility.

The latest wave of coronavirus-related shutdowns Monday led to the closure of facilities for 10 teams. Of the 49 postponements, 44 have come over the past two weeks with the Delta and Omicron variants spreading across North America.

More than 15 per cent of the league's 700-plus players are in virus protocol, and the resulting schedule disruption almost certainly has doomed the possibility of Olympic participation. A final decision on the Beijing Games is expected this week, and the odds of NHL players returning to the Olympics for the first time since 2014 have cratered.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators on Monday became the latest teams to pause all activities because of positive COVID-19 tests. The Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs also have their facilities closed, and the Calgary Flames just reopened theirs to players, coaches and staff not in protocol.

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