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NHL Games Keep Getting Postponed Due To COVID-19

NHL COVID-19 Protocol

Many NHL games have been postponed so far, this 2021 season. It may seem to have become even more frequent over the past week.

Tuesday’s Flyers vs. Capitals game

One of the most recent game to be postponed due to COVID-19  the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers did not play their game on Tuesday.

Three Philadelphia players have been placed on the team’s COVID-19 list – Travis Sanheim on Sunday and captain Claude Giroux and Justin Braun on Tuesday – resulting in the game being postponed hours before it was going to start.  The whole team had been given COVID-19 tests after prior to Sunday’s game. The results of these tests did not cause any more Flyers’ players to put on the COVID-19 protocol list.

To be put on this list, players do not have to test positive for the coronavirus. Other elements like contract tracing and travel quarantines play into COVID-19 protocols as well.

The NHL and the NHLPA worked together to develop the league’s COVID-19 policies and protocols, which they released shortly before the start of the 2021 season.

The Capitals recent COVID-19 issues

The Washington Capitals had their own issues with COVID guidelines earlier this season. Jakub Vrana had only recently made it off the COVID-19 protocol list. Alexander Ovechkin even issued a statement alongside the Washington Capitals, apologizing for a separate incident in which he, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov had spent time together in a hotel room without masks. The Washington Capitals were fined $100,000 for this, and the four key players missed four games.

Fans speculated as to why Tuesday’s game was postponed when none of the Capitals games were canceled when they had four players on the COVID-19 protocols list. One fan commented on the Washington Capitals tweet announced that the game was postponed, speculating that perhaps the Capitals game was not canceled due to the absent players voluntarily breaking mask policy.

Of course, this is not the first game to be postponed due to the pandemic this season, and it may not be the last. According to sportingnews.com 34 NHL games have been affected by COVID-19 so far this season. Not a single one has involved a Canadian team. Some of the postponed games have caused other games to be rescheduled as well.

Sabres’ coach tested positive

NHL COVID-19 Protocol
Image courtesy of NHL.com

The Buffalo Sabres have also been having some COVID-19 related struggles. Head coach Ralph Krueger tested positive for the coronavirus, causing several of the teams’ games to be postponed. The Sabres returned to the ice for practice on Tuesday, even members of the franchise are still on the COVID-19 protocol list. According the Sabres’ general manager, Kevyn Adams, some people on the list are asymptomatic. However he did say that Adams was still symptomatic. The Sabres’ next game is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 15.

The future

Currently the Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to begin May 11 and end on July 9. Shortly after,  the expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken is scheduled for July 21. The NHL has not yet released specific plans for how the playoffs will be run this season, but it is certainly possible that they will once again employ the “bubble” system.

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