The NHL is going to pause its season on Wednesday through Christmas Day in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19. The league made the announcement on Monday night, after a day in which over 15% of the league’s players were put in virus protocols. In total, 11 teams had their seasons paused over outbreaks before the league decided to pause play completely.
The NHL will mandate all teams close their facilities from Dec. 22-25, allowing players to return on Dec. 26 and games to resume a day later.
The decision comes after the NHL tightened its virus protocols to include daily testing, enhanced social-distancing measures and player-travel restrictions. The league also previously postponed all games involving Canada-U.S. travel through its regularly-scheduled Christmas break.
Before the NHL pauses its season, it will allow the following games to proceed as usual:
- Monday’s game between the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild
- A pair of Tuesday matchups: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Vegas Golden Knights.
COVID-19 has rocked the 2021-22 NHL season, postponing 44 games. ESPN reported the schedule may be disrupted enough for the NHL to use its opt-out clause for player participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Should the NHL opt-out of the Olympics, none of the league’s players would be allowed to participate in February’s Games.