Calgary Flames' Return to Play Delayed After 7 More Players Enter COVID Protocol

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 15, 2021

CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 11: Calgary Flames Center Elias Lindholm (28), Calgary Flames Defenceman Noah Hanifin (55) and Calgary Flames Defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4) talk strategy during the second period of an NHL game where the Calgary Flames hosted the Boston Bruins on December 11, 2021, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NHL has further delayed the Calgary Flames' return to play after 17 additional members of the organization entered the league's COVID Protocol, including seven players, and postponed Saturday's scheduled matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets.  

NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

SCHEDULE UPDATE: <a href="https://twitter.com/NHL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHL</a> delays <a href="https://twitter.com/NHLFlames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHLFlames</a>’ return to play; Saturday’s game vs. <a href="https://twitter.com/BlueJacketsNHL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BlueJacketsNHL</a> postponed. <a href="https://t.co/m1DTKLjRZc">https://t.co/m1DTKLjRZc</a> <a href="https://t.co/cHVumGrnW8">pic.twitter.com/cHVumGrnW8</a>

The Flames last played on Saturday, losing to the Bruins 4-2. 

The NHL, much like the NFL and NBA at the moment, is seeing a rise in cases. The Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators all have multiple players and/or staffers in the league's COVID-19 protocol.

The NHL postponed Tuesday's scheduled matchup between the Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild after Carolina's spike in positive tests. 

Head coach Darryl Sutter is among those in the protocol for the Flames, the team announced, while the players added on Wednesday include Rasmus Andersson, Byron Froese, Johnny Gaudreau, Erik Gudbranson, Trevor Lewis, Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Pitlick. 

Calgary has now had four games postponed. 

Per ESPN, 130 NHL players have been placed in the COVID protocol this season. 

In the NBA, meanwhile, rising cases led to the league postponing two Chicago Bulls games this week, with 10 of the team's players in the health and safety protocols. And the Brooklyn Nets currently have seven players in the protocols.

"Like the rest of the country, and as was predicted by our infectious disease specialists, we have seen an increase of cases around the league," NBA spokesman Mike Bass told reporters this week. "As we have since the pandemic began in March 2020, we will continue to follow the science and data, and will, in close partnership with the players' association, update our protocols as deemed appropriate by our medical experts."