NHL, NHLPA Agree to Suspend All Operations for Dec. 22-25 amid COVID-19 Spike

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 21, 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 and NHL Players' Association agreed to a leaguewide pause from Wednesday through Saturday.

NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

The <a href="https://twitter.com/NHL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHL</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/NHLPA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHLPA</a> have agreed to begin the Holiday Break after Tuesday’s games. Practices will resume on Dec. 26 and the League’s regular-season schedule will resume on Dec. 27. <a href="https://t.co/0Bmu8dlZ1M">https://t.co/0Bmu8dlZ1M</a> <a href="https://t.co/JHbxtzMX6D">pic.twitter.com/JHbxtzMX6D</a>

Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli first reported the news.

In addition to no games being played, all practices and COVID-19 testing will be halted. Players can begin returning to their respective team facilities Sunday.

Two games are still on track for Tuesday, per Seravalli. The Philadelphia Flyers will host the Washington Capitals at 7 p.m. ET, and the Vegas Golden Knights will welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning at 10 p.m. ET.

The NHL—like every other major sports league around the world—is struggling to cope with the surge of positive COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the omicron variant. The NBA and NFL have both had to postpone games because of the volume of players ruled out for COVID-related reasons.

For the NHL, temporarily suspending operations altogether was inevitable after the league and players' union agreed to postpone all cross-border games through Thursday. The number of teams shutting down through the holiday break also climbed to nine with the Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets joining the group Monday.

ESPN's Emily Kaplan reported Sunday that the NHL and NHLPA "view a full schedule pause as a last resort, and are hopeful they will be able to avoid it."

Seravalli's report underscores how the "last resort" has come to pass.