Amid continuous spikes in COVID-19 cases, the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to pause the 2021-22 campaign starting on Wednesday. The pause will last through Christmas Day.
All games, practices and team-related activities will be postponed through Saturday, and teams will be able to return to facilities on Dec. 26. Practices can begin on Sunday starting after 2 p.m. local time, but players cannot enter the facility without a negative COVID-19 test. The regular-season schedule will then resume on Dec. 27.
“With no games currently scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 22 because of COVID-related postponements, the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association have agreed to postpone the five games that remain scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 23, in order to begin the collectively-bargained Holiday Break effective with the conclusion of tomorrow night, Dec. 21,” the league said in a press release.
The decision comes after 42 games have been postponed this season, including 37 over the last week. Per Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, 119 players were reportedly in active COVID-19 protocol as of Monday at 1 p.m.
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Washington has three players on COVID-19 protocol right now: Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie. Mike Sgarbossa entered protocol Sunday but came off on Monday after a false positive. Nic Dowd, Garnet Hathaway, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Lars Eller also had COVID-19, as did goalie coach Scott Murray.
As of right now, the Capitals will still play in Tuesday’s road game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Their Thursday game against New York will be postponed. And, if things go well, Washington will suit up for Monday’s game against the Ottawa Senators at Capital One Arena, which reinstated its mask mandate in accordance with D.C.
This decision also appears to make NHL players heading to Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics seem very unlikely. The NHL and NHLPA announced on Sunday that they would discuss the decision going forward. Since then, there has been speculation that the league not sending players has become a reality. However, there has been no formal announcement as of yet.