In an announcement just over an hour ago, the NHL Public Relations Department said that it has postponed all games involving cross-border travel through the Christmas break. The pandemic is getting out of hand, and this is the league’s best attempt to get some control over the COVID-19 outbreaks that have shut teams down all across the league.
The news hits a number of teams and, with this announcement, 12 additional games between December 20-23 have been postponed. The tweet of the message is below.
The Medical Issue Is Further Complicated by the Border Issue
Because the NHL must regulate its play within the context of international boundaries, the medical issue is complicated by the political issue as well. In its tweet, the NHL noted that “the fluid nature of federal travel restrictions” was a key issue. No team wishes to leave a player in another country when the remainder of the team has gone home.
The situation is complicated. Already, five teams – the Florida Panthers, the Boston Bruins, the Nashville Predators, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Calgary Flames — have been shut down until after the Christmas break because so many players have been put into the NHL COVID-19 protocols. And many other teams are hurting, The Edmonton Oilers played short-handed in Seattle last night and the Toronto Maple Leafs had two games canceled because of the outbreaks on their team’s rosters.
The NHL Is Committed to Finishing 2021-22 Regular Season
There is some good news, which is mostly because of the high vaccination rate among teams. In the statement issued, the NHL noted its commitment to completing the season when it noted:
“We will continue to play the 2021-22 regular-season schedule. 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. 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.”
The Situation Would Be Monitored Regularly
The NHL noted that the issue was being monitored regularly. “The effects of recently introduced enhanced prevention and detection measures will be evaluated daily. The NHL and NHLPA, along with their medical experts, will be monitoring not only the number and pattern of positive COVID results, but also the depth of Club line-ups so as to ensure both the health and safety of the Players and the integrity of League competition.”
Many Players Have Tested Positive
The NHL’s announcement comes on the heels of news that more than 100 players have entered COVID-19 protocols this past week. At the same time, those entering include coaches, team staff, and officials. Wisely, the NHL reported that it would be going back to stricter rules that include wearing masks, physical distancing, and cutting down who can interact with players.
What’s the News on the Olympics?
Obviously, this news comes at a tough time for making wise decisions about the NHL’s inclusion in the Beijing Winter Olympics. A statement was released that the NHL would decide about player participation “in the coming days.”
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