COVID-19 outbreaks around the Omicron variant have led to cancellations and postponements throughout the sports world, including college basketball and the NFL. In the NHL, which has been heavily affected perhaps at least partly due to some unique environmental considerations, we’ve seen moves like reductions of fan capacity and even an empty-building game. And now, the league has put three of its teams on pause game-wise until at least December 27: the Calgary Flames (seen above in a Dec. 11 game against the Boston Bruins, they were previously on pause until Dec. 23), the Florida Panthers, and the Colorado Avalanche. Here’s more from a NHL release:
The Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers have had games postponed through the NHL holiday break because of COVID-19 concerns.
Colorado had four games scheduled before the break: at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, at the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, at the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. Wednesday and at the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
Florida had been scheduled to play three games: at the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, at the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday and at home against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
The Calgary Flames also have had games postponed through the break. They were scheduled to play at home against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday and the Seattle Kraken on Thursday.
All three of those teams are currently set to resume play on Monday, Dec. 27, with the Flames hosting the Edmonton Oilers, the Avalanche at the Vegas Golden Knights, and the Panthers at the Carolina Hurricanes. We’ll see if that comes to pass. And we’ll also see if further teams wind up with postponements, as there are several other teams dealing with COVID protocol issues at the moment.
Another factor to keep in mind with the NHL and its players is what outbreaks here might mean for NHL participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. Several prominent players have already said they’re not sure if they’ll go given the risks of long-distance travel, the on-site bubble conditions, and the possibility of being stuck in quarantine in China for up to five weeks following a positive test (under that country’s rules). The NHL and NHLPA reached a deal allowing for NHL player participation in September, but that’s seeming more in doubt now. A pullout decision can still be made by Jan. 10 without financial penalties, or even later with financial penalties, so nothing there may be decided just yet. But the current outbreaks, postponements, and reschedulings may add to the case for NHL players not going overseas right now.