The NHL and NHLPA announced they have agreed to continue playing the 2021-22 regular season as the league deals with more COVID postponements. In addition, the NHL and NHLPA announced that all games for the upcoming week that involve border crossing between the U.S. and Canadian-based teams have been postponed through the Christmas holiday break. The St. Louis Blues were the last team to play in Canada before the cross-border mandate goes into effect on December 20th.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 19, 2021
Over the past week, the NHL has seen a rise in positive tests amongst its players. However, the NHL and NHLPA doctors have noted that there have been a low number of positive cases that have resulted in concerning symptoms or serious illness. Therefore the NHL and NHLPA have decided that they will play on. If there needs to be a temporary shut down going forward it will be made on a case-by-case or team-by-team basis.
The NHL has already shut down the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs through the holiday break. In Sunday’s statement, the NHL announced there have been 27 games that have been postponed as of Saturday and at least 12 more that will be postponed through December 23rd. The NHL has to reschedule 40 or so games now, which puts Olympic participation in doubt.
Earlier in the season, the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders were shut down because of COVID-19 issues. Prior to that the San Jose Sharks dealt with a COVID situation early in the season. However, of the 40 games that have been postponed one has been replayed (Ottawa vs NJ on December 6th). One other has been rescheduled for March 27 when the Islanders visit the Rangers. With the schedule in flux, there is not much time for the NHL to make up these games. The only time is during the February break when the NHLers are supposed to go to the Olympics.
A decision on the Olympics by the NHL and NHLPA is expected to be coming within the coming days. Which is a whole other discussion within itself.
This continues to be a fluid situation and things can change day-to-day. There was some talk amongst some the NHL was going to pause the season. However, there was some pushback from not only players but general managers as well. So there was clear frustration amongst some that had no symptoms and were in protocol and couldn’t play. But as now of the NHL is going to continue playing with a smaller schedule this week.
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