NHL Reportedly Will Implement Enhanced COVID-19 Protocols Through January 7

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 15, 2021

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 30:  The NHL logo displayed behind a hockey net during intermission between the Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames at the Bell Centre on January 30, 2021 in Montreal, Canada.  The Calgary Flames defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-0.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The NHL reportedly will implement enhanced COVID-19 protocols through Jan. 7, according to ESPN's Emily Kaplan.

Kaplan previously reported the changes could include daily testing for COVID-19, mandatory masks and limited community interaction. NHL players currently get tested every three days.

The NHL has been forced to postpone several games in the last few days because of COVID-19 outbreaks, with the Calgary Flames notably having 16 players, three coaches and seven staff members currently in the league's safety protocol. Across the league, 17 players were added to the protocol on Tuesday alone.

The Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders had games postponed earlier in the year because of outbreaks while players entering the protocol for the Flames and Carolina Hurricanes have led to postponements this week.

Despite the climbing rate of positive tests, players are mostly facing mild or no symptoms.

"I think the biggest difference between this year and last year is that the vaccine itself is protecting against serious illness," Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said earlier this month. "So while we have some symptomatic players and some players under the weather for a couple days, they're not getting sick like they got last year, and that's a direct effect of being fully vaccinated."

NHL players are almost completely vaccinated except for Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi.

The league eased restrictions for the 2021-22 season compared to last year, but the latest stretch of positive tests is seemingly spurring a change in policy.

This could also be an issue for the upcoming Winter Olympics in February with many of the league's top players set to compete in China.