Yet another NHL team has had multiple upcoming games postponed due to COVID-19. Earlier this week, the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres both had their games postponed through Monday, Feb. 8, and on Wednesday, the Minnesota Wild had their games postponed through Tuesday, Feb. 9. Here’s the NHL’s statement on that:
The National Hockey League announced that as a result of five additional Minnesota Wild Players being added today to the NHL’s COVID Protocol Related Absence List, the team’s games will be postponed at least through Tuesday, Feb. 9.
The team’s training facilities have been closed, effective immediately, and will remain so until further notice. The League is in the process of reviewing and revising the Wild’s regular season schedule.
The Wild organization has, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of its Players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, local, state and national agencies.
The Wild were set to play at Colorado Thursday, host Arizona Saturday and Sunday, and host the St. Louis Blues next Tuesday. Their next game is now set to be against the Blues on Thursday, Feb. 11.
How did we get here? Well, on Sunday, Wild winger Marcus Foligno was added to the league’s COVID-19 list, which is for possible exposures as well as players who have tested positive. On Wednesday, five further players were added: defenseman and team captain Jared Spurgeon and centers Nick Bonino, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Johansson (seen at left above with Spurgeon on Jan. 24), and Nick Bjugstad. Here’s the list for the whole league, which includes 17 Devils’ players:
Covid Liste: pic.twitter.com/FVAM1guLUX
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) February 3, 2021
As noted above, that isn’t entirely a list of confirmed positives, but also includes just possible exposures. But it’s still got to be worrying for the league to see this many names on its list, and to see three different teams currently shut down over this. And beyond that, eight teams still playing have at least one name on this list, with one of those teams (Chicago) having three, and two further (Los Angeles and Washington) having two. That’s a significant amount of names to have in this kind of protocol, and it shows the challenges of playing a bubbleless season with COVID-19 numbers still quite high in the U.S. (10 of the 11 teams with at least one name on this list are Stateside, with the only Canadian one being the Jets, and that’s only with recently-acquired player Pierre-Luc Dubois still in a 14-day quarantine until Saturday) and in Canada.
At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be much official discussion of a wider league shutdown. But this has shut down three NHL teams for the moment, and we have seen COVID outbreaks shut down whole leagues (as just happened with the NWHL earlier Wednesday). We’ll see if any further NHL teams wind up affected.
[NHL.com; photo from Brace Hemmelgarn/USA Today Sports]