NHL: Spike in COVID cases around the league raises concerns

nhl covid cases
May 5, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers leaves the ice following the last home game of the season against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL has seen one team shutdown in the Calgary Flames and at least one game for the Carolina Hurricanes postponed in just the matter of days.

Today alone, several teams across the league have added players to COVID protocol lists. The Islanders added Matthew Barzal. The Bruins added Brad Marchand and Craig Smith. In Colorado, Devon Toews was added.

That’s on top of the three additional members of the Calgary Flames and the four Canes that postponed Carolina’s game against the Wild.

NHL unlikely to shutdown

On TSN’s latest edition of Insider Trading, Pierre LeBrun provided an update on the current situation.

“I asked the NHL if there’s any way these COVID cases that continue to escalate – are we staring at a potential pause on the season?” LeBrun then revealed what a league source told him. “‘No. I do not anticipate a league shut down,’ and I got the same exact answer from an NHLPA source.”

Doctors advising the NHL and NHLPA are meeting tonight to discuss the latest outbreak and possible next steps. LeBrun suggested enhanced protocols which could include daily testing.

gerard gallant
Oct 18, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant during the first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Current COVID Protocols Summary:

  • Fully vaccinated players must have a PCR test every 72 hours
  • Unvaccinated players must be tested daily
  • Unvaccinated players must follow last year’s strict guidelines when on the road
    • Can’t leave hotel
    • Unable to use hotel gym/facilities
    • Can’t have teammates in room (only fully vaccinated family members)

The NHL may not want to shutdown, but it still seems like a possibility. One thing that is still on the table is participation in the Olympics, which have strict COVID protocols for athletes that attend.

Several players have already voiced concerns with Connor McDavid calling what he’s heard “unsettling.”

The NHL and NHLPA can opt-out by January 10.

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Note: This article was first published at The Daily Goal Horn