- The National Hockey League (NHL) will start their Holiday Break on December 22 due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
- The Holiday Break was originally scheduled December 24 through December 26.
- Over the weekend, the NHL announced the postponement of all cross-border games until after the Christmas Holiday break.
The National Hockey League (NHL) has been having a tough time with the resurgence of COVID-19 brought about by the omicron variant. Over the weekend, they announced that all cross-border games would be postponed until after the Holiday Break. That was in addition to measures already taken with individual teams on a case by case basis.
In the 48 hours since the cross-border game postponement was announced, the NHL’s COVID-19 situation has deteriorated significantly. By Sunday, there were 70 NHL players–10% of the league–in COVID-19 protocol. On Monday, the positive test announcements came so fast and furious that it was impossible to keep track of them all. By Monday night, the percentage of NHL players in the COVID-19 protocol shot up to over 100 representing more than 15% of the league. During the day, several more teams were forced to pause their activities due to COVID outbreaks: the Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs.
In the late hours of Monday evening, the NHL make another tough call. The decision was made to temporarily pause the season by starting the scheduled Holiday Break early. The break was previously set for December 24 through December 26 but will now begin at the end of Tuesday’s action. Teams are mandated to close their facilities from December 22 through December 26. Games will resume on December 27. This move increased the number of games postponed due to the COVID outbreak to 49. Four of five games for Monday were postponed due to individual team shutdowns as are 8 of 10 games for Tuesday. The two games that will be played Tuesday will be the Washington Capitals at the Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
As of this writing, there have been no comments from representatives of the league office or the NHLPA though you have to think that they’ll be forthcoming on Tuesday. Still unresolved–at least publicly–is the status of NHL players competing in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. The NHL has until January 10 to opt out without financial penalty. With the COVID situation the way it is it looks extremely likely that the league will opt out–most likely making an announcement within the next 48 hours.
More postponements could be forthcoming. The extended Holiday Break will allow the NHL and its individual teams to get a handle on things but there’s every reason to think that more positive tests will be reported on Tuesday and Wednesday. The prevailing wisdom now is that the NHL will opt out of the Beijing Games and play games that need to be rescheduled during the three week window scheduled for the Winter Olympics.