The NHL and NHLPA announced on Sunday that they will continue the regular season amid the increased spread of COVID-19 through the league.
Although there is no official league-wide pause, cross-border games between Canadian and American teams will be postponed through Dec. 23. A total of 12 games will be postponed to a later date as a result of this change.
“Although there has been a recent increase in positive COVID test results among players, coaches and hockey staff, there have been a low number of positive cases that have resulted in concerning symptoms or serious illness," the statement read. "Therefore, the NHLPA’s and NHL’s medical experts have determined that, with virtually all players and club hockey staff fully vaccinated, the need to temporarily shut down individual teams should continue to be made on a case-by-case basis.”
As of this writing, there are 108 players on the league’s COVID protocol list representing 21 teams, with some completely shutting down and postponing multiple games out of precaution and not being able to ice a full and healthy roster.
The NHL recently announced it will revert back to more strict regulations and rules due to the threat of the Omicron variant. Those rules include no more indoor dining while on the road, wearing masks at all times while in club facilities and during travel, and restricting internal gatherings. Both the league and the players’ union feel that with these regulations in place, plus daily testing, it is enough to get through this recent surge.
The NHL also announced that talks are ongoing over whether or not the players will be participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. There is an obvious concern of rescheduling the 39 total games that have been postponed as of Sunday, as made evident by it being mentioned in the same breath as the fact that a final decision regarding Olympic player participation will be announced in the coming days.
We’ll see where the league goes from here if the protocol list fills up even more.
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