There were numerous NHL games postponed today, including eight Canadian home dates.
SCHEDULE UPDATE: The @NHL announced today that eight additional games will be rescheduled for dates later in the season.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 31, 2021
All About the Money
Different jurisdictions of Canada announced strict gathering limits for sporting events recently. Ontario has dropped the attendance limit to just 1,000 for “large sporting and entertainment events” after previously limiting events to 50 percent. British Columbia has been at 50 percent attendance since December 22nd. Alberta likewise since December 24th. Quebec’s new restrictions have suspended all indoor events and placed severe limits on outdoor ones.
The NHL is still a gate-driven league, with a far greater proportion of team income coming from fans in attendance. As a consequence, the NHL has decided that teams will lose less money by delaying games that have attendance restrictions until those restrictions are no longer in place. It isn’t just ticket sales, of course, but also ancillary income from everything sold during a game. It’s a gamble, but between the various jurisdictions trying to limit the rapid spread of COVID-19 and a schedule that’s already in some turmoil… what is being risked has decreasing value anyway.
Disappointing, Not Surprising
The NHL has postponed the following games:
Monday, January 3rd: Minnesota Wild @ Winnipeg Jets
Wednesday, January 5th: New York Islanders @ Vancouver Canucks
Saturday, January 8th: Islanders @ Edmonton Oilers
Tuesday, January 11th: Islanders @ Calgary Flames
Wednesday, January 12th: Minnesota @ Edmonton
Friday, January 14th: Vegas Golden Knights @ Edmonton
Saturday, January 15th: Vegas @ Calgary
Sunday, January 16th: Edmonton @ Winnipeg
The team hardest hit by the delay is clearly the New York Islanders. In addition to their Canadian swing, the Islanders also had their planned trip to the Seattle Kraken delayed. Logically enough, given the cost of a cross-continent flight for a single game, that’s expensive.
As we saw last year, the NHL will do everything possible to play any games postponed. While it won’t result in another bubble – even if it is more secure than the World Juniors fiasco – there have been changes already. Taxi squads have already returned for this season, up until the planned All-Star Break at least. At the very least, teams and the league have experience with sudden changes. It should, in theory, be a little easier to deal with this time.