The NHL’s postponement of games has continued for additional teams in light of the recent COVID outbreak within the league. The league has postponed all cross-border play between the US and Canada. In addition, the Detroit Red Wings are shut down through the holiday break.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 19, 2021
NHL Postponements Affect Cross-Border Play
The NHL has experienced one of the worst COVID outbreaks since March 2020. 37 games have been postponed in recent weeks, and multiple teams have been shut down through the holiday break.
While most players are vaccinated, the virus is still spreading like wildfire. Players experience minimal side effects and are usually ready to go right after their isolation period, but the spread is concerning to the league and government officials. So much so that the Montreal Canadiens opted to have an empty arena with no fans against the Philadelphia Flyers. In addition, Ontario is limiting its fan capacity for the Ottawa Senators to 50% for the foreseeable future.
The NHL postponements for cross-border games were cancelled through the start of the holiday break. The break will last from December 23rd through December 26th.
What This Means Moving Forward
There is little worry about the health of the players because most of them are vaccinated and healthy individuals. However, the number of players and coaches in COVID protocol is concerning to the league. There is some backlash from the players and management on these protocols. Adrian Dater reported that some players and coaches are “fed up” with these protocols, and one even called the entire thing “a charade”. It is extremely difficult to argue that the protocols need to be as strict as they were in the bubble due to the high percentage of vaccinated players. However, the sheer number of players unable to play makes fair competition challenging. Keeping players, coaches, and fans safe wherever the players travel is a concern for the league.
As this situation progresses, keep an eye on how the players and the league interact. This relationship is crucial to keep COVID cases low and keep everyone healthy. Also, take a look at what other leagues are doing, specifically the NBA, which is experiencing similar issues.