NHL Reportedly Not Considering Pausing Season amid Increased COVID-19 Cases

Doric SamDecember 16, 2021

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 09:  A view of the NHL crest on a net prior to the start of the first period between the Montreal Canadiens and the Los Angeles Kings at Centre Bell on November 9, 2021 in Montreal, Canada.  The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The NHL has seen a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, but there are reportedly no plans to pause the season.

According to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, both the league and the players' association agree a shutdown is not necessary at this point.

"Will the NHL have to pause the season if things continue to escalate? That’s not being considered at this point in time, a league source said Tuesday," LeBrun wrote. "An NHL Players’ Association source said the same, that a shutdown was not anticipated at this point."

ESPN's Emily Kaplan reported on Wednesday that the NHL and NHLPA agreed on enhanced health and safety protocols through Jan. 7. Kaplan added that the enhanced protocol would include daily testing, mask requirements and virtual meetings.

More than two dozen NHL players have entered protocol over the last two days. The Carolina Hurricanes' game on Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild was canceled after four Carolina players tested positive. Two Hurricanes players were left behind in Vancouver after Sunday's game against the Canucks because of positive tests.

The Calgary Flames added coach Darryl Sutter and 16 other team members to the protocol, and their season is paused through at least Dec. 18.

Per Kaplan, only one NHL player remains unvaccinated: Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings.

LeBrun noted that the latest rash in COVID-19 cases could also affect the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing.

"In the meantime, the Olympic question looms larger than ever," LeBrun wrote. "The NHLPA had two separate calls Monday with players on Olympic long lists, another call is scheduled for Wednesday."

He continued, "The mood on those calls, I'm told, was sobering, the confirmation of quarantine rules and regulations in Beijing lasting up to five weeks potentially for players who test positive and really, the biggest takeaway, was probably the realization that once the players are over there, there's not a whole lot the NHL and NHLPA can do."

The NHL has an opt-out clause in the latest collective bargaining agreement to withdraw its players from the Olympics. The deadline for the league to withdraw without penalty is Jan. 10.