In a move that seemed inevitable since three teams had their schedules postponed last week, the NHL announced a league-wide schedule pause on Monday evening.
The Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers were the first teams to have their seasons temporarily shut down, followed by the Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins shortly after. In total, 11 teams had suspended operations, and the league also suspended all cross-border games between the U.S. and Canada.
Stricter COVID-19 protocols were introduced last week that include daily testing and increased restrictions on where players can go away from the rink. The NHL is also recommending all players get booster shots.
No teams will play any games or be allowed to practice until after Christmas with COVID-19 testing scheduled to start up on Dec. 26 and games to resume the following day.
Players will not be allowed into their team facilities until they have a negative COVD test and any practices on Dec. 26 must be held after 2 p.m. local time.
The Predators currently have seven players and its entire coaching staff in the league’s COVID protocol. They will miss games against the Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets and Panthers. Their first game back will be against the Dallas Stars on Dec. 27 at the American Airlines Center.
Nearly 50 games have been postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks among several teams, including the Predators. Reports state that more than 15 percent of NHL players (roughly 107 players) are in the COVD protocol as of Monday.
NHL officials have until Jan. 10 to decide whether players will be allowed to play in the Winter Olympics in Beijing. The league could use the COVID-19 outbreaks to implement its opt-out clause to prohibit players from participating.
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