The Latest On The COVID-19 Pandemic And The 2021-22 NHL Season


Photo: AP/Michael Dwyer

The 2021-22 NHL season is one that continues to be greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In most cases, hockey venues continue to require patrons to be either fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID test. In addition, many fans attending games are either required or encouraged to continue wearing masks.

Meanwhile, the teams themselves have also directly dealt with the COVID-19 virus, even though it’s been widely reported that most of the players in the league have been fully vaccinated. Here’s the latest status update from around the league:

Arena Protocols

The following table presents the current protocols implemented at each of the NHL arenas. It includes whether or not fans are required to be fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative test and whether or not masking is required. (This chart reflects the most up-to-date data for each arena).

Team Vaccine Proof Neg COVID Vax or Test Mask
Anaheim Either If not Vaxxed
Arizona No No No
Boston Either Yes
Buffalo Yes
Calgary Yes Yes
Carolina No No Yes
Chicago Either Yes
Colorado Either Yes
Columbus No No Yes
Dallas No No Yes
Detroit No No No
Edmonton Either Yes
Florida No No No
Los Angeles Either Yes
Minnesota No No Yes
Montréal Yes Yes
Nashville No No Encouraged
New Jersey No No Encouraged
NY Islanders Either Yes
NY Rangers Yes Yes
Ottawa Yes Yes
Philadelphia No No Yes
Pittsburgh No No Yes
San Jose Yes Yes
Seattle Yes Yes
St Louis Either Yes
Tampa Bay No No Encouraged
Toronto Yes Yes
Vancouver Yes Yes
Vegas No No Yes
Washington No No Encouraged
Winnipeg Yes Yes

Vaccination and Masking Required

In summary, the Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Kraken, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets all require vaccinations and masking.

The New York Rangers’ policy is currently being changed. At the present time, just one vaccination is required and fans not fully vaccinated must be masked. New rules will require full vaccination.

The Buffalo Sabres require proof of vaccination but do not require masks for the vaccinated.

Vaccination Or Proof Of Negative Test

The Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, and require masking.

The Anaheim Ducks require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test and require masking for those who are not vaccinated.

No Vaccine Required

The Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Las Vegas Knights have no vaccination or test mandate but require fans to be masked.

The Nashville Predadors, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals have no vaccination or test mandate but encourage fans to be masked.

What Pandemic?

The Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers have no vaccination or test mandate and no mask mandate.

COVID-19 Situation for NHL Teams

Several NHL teams have already dealt with COVID-19 issues. Below is a discussion of the main COVID-19 cases in the 2021-22 NHL season.

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins had an outbreak that started in mid-October when Zack Aston-Reese went into COVID protocol. He was followed by Jeff Carter and Kris Letang in late October. After that, Marcus Pettersson, Chad Ruhwedel, Sidney Crosby, Brian Dumoulin and head coach Mike Sullivan would also enter COVID-19 protocol. They were all back by mid-November.
  • The San Jose Sharks’ COVID-19 outbreak started on October 30 when Kevin Labanc, Erik Karlsson, Timo Meier, Jake Middleton, Matthew Nieto, Radim Simek and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, as well as Head Coach Bob Boughner, all entered COVID-19 protocol. They were all back just after Veterans’ Day.
  • The St. Louis Blues have dealt with at least one key player in COVID-19 protocol since October 19 when Brandan Saad was affected. He was followed a week later by Ryan O’Reilly. Less than a week later, Ville Husso, Brayden Schenn and Torey Krug were affected even though Saad was back by then. While all those players have returned, now Jordan Binnington is the latest to enter COVID-19 protocol on the team.
  • The Los Angeles Kings missed Brendan Lemieux due to COVID-19 in mid-October. He returned but then Viktor Arvidsson and forward Gabe Vilardi were out during early November. Then, Andreas Athanasiou just after Thanksgiving. Blake Lissotte went into protocol in early December.
  • The Ottawa Senators had a COVID outbreak in November that resulted in 10 players being in COVID-19 protocol at the same time: forwards Austin Watson, Alex Formenton, Dylan Gambrell, Connor Brown, and Drake Batherson, and defensemen Nick Holden, Victor Mete, Josh Brown, Nikita Zaitsev, and goalie Matt Murray. Three games were postponed, as a result.
  • The New York Islanders were another team who had an outbreak severe enough to result in games being postponed. Two of their games, originally scheduled for late November, were postponed, with one rescheduled for mid-March. Their outbreak started with Josh Bailey, soon to be joined by captain Anders Lee and Ross Johnston. They were later joined by Anthony Beauvillier (who had a false positive and only missed one game), Zdeno Chara, Andy Greene, Adam Pelech, and then Casey Cizikas. Nearly all those players have returned except Cizikas.
  • The Washington Capitals had Lars Eller go into protocol on a road trip to the West Coast. He was out of protocol by Thanksgiving. But then Nic Dowd, Trevor Van Riemsdyk and Garnet Hathaway entered COVID protocol in early December where they remain today.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes had defensemen Tony DeAngelo and Brett Pesce go into COVID protocol just after the Capitals’ game in late November. They have just been cleared.

Attendance Woes

The pandemic has also affected attendance numbers around the league. The following table developed by Pregame Skate details the attendance figures to date. [Click to enlarge]

The 2021-22 NHL season is approximately one third of the way complete, and the COVID-19 virus has already had a huge impact on the league. It’s likely that the outbreaks will continue through the end of the season, but hopefully the League and the world will soon turn a corner.

Related Reading
Washington Post: Capitals on Covid Protection
Sports Travel: Covid Protocols for NHL Teams

By Diane Doyle

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
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