Flames, Panthers, Avalanche Shut Down Through NHL Holiday Break Because of COVID-19

Erin WalshDecember 17, 2021

CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 11: Calgary Flames Defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4) handles the puck in front of Calgary Flames Goalie Jacob Markstrom (25) during the first 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 Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers have been shut down through the NHL's holiday break because of COVID-19 outbreaks within each club, the league announced Friday.

NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

The <a href="https://twitter.com/NHL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHL</a> has extended the period of game postponements for the <a href="https://twitter.com/NHLFlames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHLFlames</a> through Dec. 23.<br><br>Additionally, <a href="https://twitter.com/Avalanche?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Avalanche</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/FlaPanthers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FlaPanthers</a> games also will be postponed at least through the scheduled completion of the League's Holiday Break on Dec. 26. <a href="https://t.co/uwKuHkEhJw">https://t.co/uwKuHkEhJw</a> <a href="https://t.co/d8r558IcCa">pic.twitter.com/d8r558IcCa</a>

Calgary has already missed matchups with the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs. It will also miss games against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks and Seattle Kraken.

Colorado's postponements are for games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins, while Florida will miss contests against the Minnesota Wild, Blackhawks and Predators. 

The Flames have 19 players and 13 club employees in COVID-19 protocols. Five Avalanche players are in protocols, and the Panthers have seven, per ESPN's Kristen Shilton

Other NHL franchises are also experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, including the Boston Bruins, whose matchup against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday was postponed. 

The NHL has mandated enhanced health and safety protocols amid the outbreaks across the league, including increased mask-wearing, virtual meetings and daily testing. 

ESPN's Emily Kaplan noted that the more games are postponed, the less likely NHL players will participate in the Winter Olympics. The league may need that time for makeup games.

NHL Players' Association Executive Director Don Fehr said last week that players are uncertain about participating in the Beijing Olympics because they haven't received definitive answers about COVID-19 protocols for the Games, per ESPN's Greg Wyshynski

It's unclear if the NHL is considering a leaguewide shutdown given the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.