Photo: Calgary Flames
Recent COVID-19 outbreaks are currently disrupting the NHL as well as many other sports. The outbreaks have caused the Calgary Flames to postpone three games while the Carolina Hurricanes are also dealing with an outbreak and have already postponed one game. Several other teams currently have players in COVID-19 protocol although not enough to postpone any scheduled games.
The worst outbreak is on the Calgary Flames. On Monday the team announced that forwards Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Brad Richardson and Adam Ruzicka and defensemen Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov were all placed in COVID-19 protocol. In addition, a staff member was also placed in protocol.
There will likely be more games postponed as the Flames have nine players who cannot leave isolation until at least December 21. The team’s training facilities have been closed and will remain closed for players until further notice.
#Flames Roster Update: Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Brad Richardson, Adam Ruzicka, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, and a member of the training staff have entered the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) December 13, 2021
The Carolina Hurricanes have also been hit hard by COVID-19. On Monday it was announced that Sebastian Aho, Seth Jarvis and a staff member have entered COVID-19 protocol. They have all remained in Vancouver, the location of their most recent game, while the rest of the team flew to Minnesota to play the Wild.
Sebastian Aho, Seth Jarvis and a member of the training staff have entered COVID protocol and will remain in Vancouver.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 13, 2021
The next day, it was announced that four additional players on the ‘Canes roster entered Covid protocol: Andrei Svechnikov, Jordan Staal, Steven Lorentz and Ian Cole all tested positive. As a result, the Hurricanes’ game against the Wild has now been postponed.
Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, Ian Cole and Steven Lorentz have entered COVID protocol and will remain in Minnesota for the time being.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 14, 2021
Additional players added to COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday were Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand, New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews. It appears that a total of 25 players had been added to Covid-19 protocol within the last 36 hours.
As Tuesday’s games began, two more players went into COVID-19 protocol after being pulled from their games: Morgan Frost of the Philadelphia Flyers and Tucker Poolman of the Vancouver Canucks.
With the recent outbreaks, players are concerned about participating in the upcoming Olympic games in China in February 2022, given the prospect that testing positive could result in a five-week quarantine in China.
Robin Lehner, goaltender for the Vegas Golden Knights, opted against representing Sweden in the Olympics. Connor McDavid describes the prospect of quarantining for five weeks for a positive Covid test as “unsettling”. In any case, the NHL has until January 10 to decide on whether Olympic participation will take place.
The NHL Response
Earlier this evening, Pierre LeBrun reported that doctors from the NHL and NHLPA planned to have a call tonight to discuss the latest events and recommend the next steps to take.
By 10:30 PM EST, TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted that the league would enact more enhanced protocols among all teams in the NHL, pending a final decision from the medical conference call with the above parties. According to Dreger, it is likely that the protocols from last season will be implemented in response to the spike in cases.
Basically, it would be a return to last seasons protocols. May not be indefinite, but a response is required amid a spike in cases across the NHL. https://t.co/3vkBUPVrDy
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 15, 2021
Other teams have dealt with Covid disruption but have had no game cancellations since the cases were spread out during the season. This includes the St Louis Blues who had nine cases, along with numerous injuries, rendering them short of personnel. Additional teams with a high number of cases were the Pittsburgh Penguins (eight cases), San Jose Sharks (seven cases), and Chicago Blackhawks (nine cases).
Not Just Hockey
Hockey is not the only sport dealing with Covid. The NBA and NFL are dealing with recent outbreaks as well.
In the NBA, it was announced on Monday that since the Chicago Bulls had ten players in COVID-19 protocol, their upcoming games against the Detroit Pistons and the Toronto Raptors would be postponed. These games were the first ones postponed for the 2021-22 season. In addition to players, the Chicago Bulls had multiple staff members in protocol as well.
In the NFL, thirty-six NFL players, 25 on active rosters and 11 on practice squads, were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday as a result of positive tests. The NFL then mandated that all Tier I and Tier II personnel who had previously been vaccinated and are eligible for boosters, must receive a booster. Vaccine mandates for players, however, would have to be negotiated between the NFL and its Players Association.
Even foreign sports leagues are dealing with COVID-19. This includes the English Premier League where 42 new positive cases were discovered on Monday, and a match between Brentford vs Manchester United was postponed due to an outbreak. In response, the league has approved plans for players to get tested daily. The tests would be done before the player enters their practice facility.
The Latest On The COVID-19 Pandemic And The 2021-22 NHL Season
Evgeny Kuznetsov Leaves Practice For Precautionary Reasons, Scott Murray Enters COVID-19 Protocol: News From Capitals Thursday Practice
Capitals’ Garnet Hathaway Unavailable Due to COVID-19 Protocol
Capitals’ Trevor Van Riemsdyk Placed On NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol
Capitals Announce Nic Dowd Is In COVID Protocol
New York Islanders Games Postponed Due To Extensive COVID Outbreak
NHL Postpones Senators’ Next Three Games At Least After 10 Players Enter COVID-19 Protocol
Capitals’ Lars Eller Placed In COVID-19 Protocol
The Athletic: Lebrun NHL Not Considering Pausing Season Yet But Olympic Participation Increasingly in Jeopardy
By Diane Doyle