The NHL is experiencing a dramatic spike in COVID cases around the league. Over the past 48 hours, more than 50 players and team staff members have newly been placed in COVID protocols, including nearly the entire Calgary Flames lineup. A number of teams have had games postponed over the last two days and the Carolina Hurricanes are facing a situation where they will not be able to field a full lineup for their game against the Red Wings tomorrow night.
Things are spiraling, to say the least.
The NHL and NHLPA have met over the past two days to figure out what needs to be done to address the concerning rising number of positive cases in the league and how to try to curb those numbers for the health and safety of the players and league personnel. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the league will be implementing “enhanced” protocols through at least January 7.
Measures include restrictions on indoor dining while on the road, masking and distancing while in club facilities and daily testing, except on days off.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 15, 2021
Friedman is also reporting that within the new cases around the league, the newly detected Omicron variant has been found. Even with nearly 100% vaccination status in the league, COVID’s ability to spread is still a threat. The new variant is also believed to be more transmissible than previous variants of COVID, but is also believed to be not have as severe of symptoms.
As expected the NHL is implementing enhanced protocols in next step of defending against the current wave of Covid19. The protocols will be league wide through Jan 7, but will be revisited early in the New Year and could be extended.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 15, 2021
It is also being recommended at players receive the COVID booster shots if they have not already and are eligible.
This news comes at the same time that the Ontario government is cutting the capacity for large public events, including Maple Leafs and Senators games, leading to a 50% capacity maximum for venues that hold more than 1,000 people. There has been no league-wide ruling on capacity limits for teams, but with the NBA and NFL also experiencing major COVID issues in recent days, and with the measures being taken in Ontario, it might be another step in trying to limit the spread around the leagues and the general public.
We will keep up with these developments around the league as they happen.