The NWHL had already seen two teams remove themselves from competition at their Lake Placid bubble and now, thanks to more positive COVID-19 test results, the entire league has decided to suspend the remainder of the 2021 season. There had been several outbreaks that left really no choice but to shut things down, an unfortunate result just before the playoffs were going to be aired on NBC Sports in the coming days.
The Toronto Six, Buffalo Beauts, Boston Pride, and Minnesota Whitecaps were scheduled to play in the semi-final round on Thursday, while the winners would play the Isobel Cup final on Friday.
As Marisa Ingemi of NBC writes, there had been additional players brought into the “bubble” over the last few days, sparking some controversy over how secure the health protocols actually were. Two teams, the Connecticut Whale and Metropolitan Riveters, who shared a hotel (along with the Whitecaps), had already pulled themselves from the competition.
Greg Wyshynski of ESPN tweets that internally, the NWHL hopes that the streaming numbers and “unprecedented mainstream interest” can still result in some positives being drawn from the tournament, but notes it is now a “critical time” as the league changes staff.
The PWHPA on the other hand, another professional women’s hockey organization that has at times been rivals with the NWHL, announced some encouraging news today instead. The New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden will host the Dream Gap Tour on February 28, claiming the first time that professional women’s hockey will be played in the arena.