It’s just barely midday on Tuesday as I write this and already the NHL has been hit with a plethora of positive COVID cases and players being put into protocol. Currently, the NHL has 30 players in protocol and the running list from today already includes Mat Barzal (Islanders), Brad Marchand (Bruins), Devon Toews (Avalanche), and a trio of Flames players with Noah Hanifin, Milan Lucic, and Sean Monahan all landing in protocol.
UPDATE: You can add Ryan McLeod (Oilers) and a “handful” of players from the Nashville Predators to the growing list of players and staff on NHL COVID protocol.
Calgary is now up to nine players and staff in COVID protocol and had their game last night with the Blackhawks postponed, as well as their games up through Thursday. Signs point to that likely extending beyond Thursday anyway.
nhl has to just shut things down at this point. this is getting ridiculous
— dom at the athletic (@domluszczyszyn) December 14, 2021
The league has seen the Senators, Islanders, and Flames all have games postponed this season already. The league has cancelled team holiday parties and all public events until further notice. At what point are we looking at the possibility of games being closed to the public? Or at what point could the league be facing a pause in the season?
UPDATE: The Hurricanes and Wild game tonight has been postponed due to COVID positives on Carolina.
I wonder what happens here with NHL:
1) let positive Covid players play as long as they are asymptomatic & vaccinated
2) shut it down for 2 weeks (Jan 1) to give everyone a chance to start over
Either way – you have to go to daily testing for everyone.
— Rachel Doerrie (@racheldoerrie) December 14, 2021
Neither of these options seems great, but if the league is trying to complete an 82-game schedule, they will have to do something to address the growing number of cases and players in COVID protocol. Also, you can pretty much forget the Olympics at this point.
The NHL’s going to show up to the Olympics with herd immunity and antibodies for every variant at this rate…
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) December 14, 2021
We’ve seen a number of players come forward with concerns about heading to the Olympics because of the COVID protocols they would be subjected to. Blackhawks goaltender Marc-André Fleury said he would be hesitant to go and his Canadian teammate Connor McDavid is now expressing similar concerns.
Connor McDavid tells media in Edmonton the idea of a potential quarantine of three to five weeks because of a positive COVID-19 test at the Beijing Olympics: "unsettling."
Won't say today if he's out if that's the case. #Oilers
— Joshua Clipperton (@JClipperton_CP) December 14, 2021
The good thing we can take away from the rise in COVID positive results is that players, nearly 100% of the league, got vaccinated and some have already received the COVID booster shot as well. So it’s different than when the season was stopped in spring of 2020. But we are still talking about transmission and the possibility of long-term effects on the players and staff affected.
The two biggest differences between this season and last season on COVID: That the variants are inherently contagious, and (almost all) NHL players stepped up and got vaccinated.
As Bill Daly said last week: pic.twitter.com/RcssAzJlb0
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) December 14, 2021
A pause to the season would suck. It also wouldn’t likely end with a full, “everyone is fine now” reset to the league.
The NHL, NBA, and NFL are dealing with major COVID issues right now and their best option might be to find way to work around it. But at what point does working around it start to become nearly impossible? We’ve seen the NBA finally postpone Bulls games after ten(!) players were in the league’s COVID protocol.
I just don’t know where this is headed. All I know is that getting the vaccination, plus the booster, and wearing your mask (properly!) when at games, events, in public spaces, is your best bet right now against this getting worse.
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) December 14, 2021