The outbreak of COVID-19 cases across the NHL has finally come to a head. The league has announced they will postpone the five games remaining on December 23, essentially lengthening the holiday break from December 22-25. Teams will report back to their facilities on December 26 and games will resume the following day.
While many of the games originally scheduled for the rest of this week have already been postponed, the early shutdown will mean that the five games still on the docket for Thursday, December 23, will now be postponed as well. That includes Flyers-Penguins, Capitals-Islanders, Stars-Blackhawks, Lightning-Coyotes, and Kings-Knights. The two games scheduled for tomorrow, Capitals-Flyers and Lightning-Knights, will proceed as scheduled before operations are suspended on Wednesday.
Rather than hold to the initial holiday break of December 24-26, players and staff will return to action a day early to resume testing. In addition to games, practice, and all other team activities being suspended during the shutdown, testing will also not occur, but the league will be eager to check in on its players before returning to action. Friedman notes that all players and staff will require a negative COVID test before re-entering team facilities.
With even more games being postponed and the mounting pressure on the NHL and its players to pull out of the 2022 Winter Olympics, with rumors abound that this decision has already been made, Bally Sports’ Andy Strickland reports that the league will be forced to use the planned Olympic break to instead make up the numerous games they have lost over the past couple of weeks. The league could address this plan and Olympic intentions when announcing the shutdown.