Penguins vs. Maple Leafs Among 3 Games Postponed; NHL Reintroduces Taxi Squads

Erin WalshDecember 27, 2021

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 11: Toronto Maple Leafs players exit the locker room behind the Maple Leafs logo before playing the Chicago Blackhawks at the Scotiabank Arena on December 11, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

The NHL has postponed three more games this week because of COVID-19, the league announced Sunday. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators are the teams impacted.

The NHL and NHL Players Association also agreed to the reintroduction of taxi squads in order to provide teams with players who can be recalled to avoid having games postponed in the future. 

Each team will be allowed to have a taxi squad of up to six players. In addition, teams are allowed to make emergency recalls from the minors if COVID-19 were to prevent them from playing with a full lineup. 

Taxi squads will be in effect until at least the All-Star break in February. Players on the taxi squad will count as being in the for the salary cap and can be there for a minimum of 20 days. 

The NHL also had taxi squads during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season. 

Several players have entered COVID-19 health and safety protocols since returning from the holiday break, including Bruins forward Charlie Coyle, Maple Leafs forward Williams Nylander and Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues. 

The NHL began its holiday break earlier than expected this year because of a rise in positive COVID-19 cases across the league. Every team was shut down beginning Dec. 22, though most were on pause before that point. 

Several teams are set to return to action on Tuesday, including the Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens, Vegas Golden Knights, Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks.

Because of postponements across the league and rise in COVID-19 cases, the NHL and NHLPA also recently decided that players would not attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing. The league needs the two-week break in the February schedule to make up more than 50 postponed games.