The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to pause the 2021-22 regular season starting Wednesday, December 22nd through Saturday, December 25th. With teams returning to their facilities on Sunday, December 26th no earlier than 2 pm ET. Games will resume on Monday, December 27th. As of now, the games on Tuesday are set to be played pending test results.
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
It comes as no surprise the NHL agreed to pause its season after more and more games continued to be postponed following their announcement on Sunday. The NHL and NHLPA released a statement on Sunday stating they were going to continue playing despite the rising COVID cases throughout the NHL. The caveat was that all cross-border games were going to be postponed. However, after the Montreal Canadiens, Columbus Blues Jackets were shut down through the holiday break, and the New Jersey Devils-Pittsburgh Penguins and Arizona Coyotes-Seattle Kraken game were postponed it was only a matter of time.
Previous postponements had already wiped out the schedule for Wednesday, so starting the holiday a break a day or two earlier was not going to hurt anything.
The NHL has 49 games to reschedule if not more with more than 20 teams on pause through the holiday break. The Olympics were already in doubt, but this number allows the NHL to back out of the Olympics without needing the players’ approval to do so. It is only a matter of time before that happens.
This was no easy decision as there were several options on the table. The first option which they decided on was to pause through the holiday break. Another option was to pause through New Year’s Eve with play resuming with the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. Both would have been solid options. However, there was definitely pushback from players and teams.
Some players and teams felt the NHL should have just pushed through and not paused at all. as players were returning from protocol within days. In addition, they raised the question of would the league be in a better position in a week. There was no guarantee of that. So just play as many games as possible. The fewer games to make up the better. Not to mention a majority of players have no symptoms and feel they can play.
Other teams felt a pause is a good idea because they just don’t have the bodies to field a team because of other sicknesses going through the team. Not to mention those teams cannot call up players from the AHL. As the AHL is dealing with its own COVID mess.
The NHL will now have to reschedule these games. Of the earlier rescheduled games, one has been played and one has been rescheduled. The one that has been played involved the Devils and Ottawa Senators. The other rescheduled games involved the New York Islanders and New York Rangers on March 27th.
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