NHL stops cross-border games and closes 6th team
The NHL and its players’ association temporarily cracked down on teams crossing the Canadian border and halted operations of a sixth team on Sunday in hopes of saving the season as COVID-19 epidemics spread through the league.
The Detroit Red Wings have been added to the ceasefire roster, joining the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins. Detroit’s home game against Colorado on Monday was postponed and will not go as planned, and the Red Wings’ trip to Minnesota for Thursday’s game has been canceled.
Teams based in Canada will not play against teams based in the United States from Monday to Thursday, with those postponed games to be rescheduled. The league said the decision was made, in part, due to the “fluid nature of federal travel restrictions.”
âWe will continue to play the 2021-22 regular season schedule,â the NHL and NHLPA said in a joint statement on Sunday. âWhile there has been a recent increase in positive COVID test results among players, coaches and hockey staff, there have been a low number of positive cases that have resulted in worrying symptoms or serious illness. “
A total of 27 games have been postponed to Saturday and 12 more to Thursday will be postponed to another date. About 10% of the 700+ players were in the league’s antivirus protocol on Saturday.
The Los Angeles Kings were scheduled to host the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, but that has been postponed. Kings coach Todd McLellan said it was “a very difficult time right now for the players and those involved in the game.”
“What’s strange for us … is that we have mostly players who are feeling perfectly fine and are taken out of the game. We have a bit of a flu virus, cough, the typical stuff. winter going through our team. These players are playing, which is weird, but I’m getting the protocols, “he said.” I’m getting the sanitary guidelines and I think we’re in good hands. ”
McLellan added that it’s tough this time of year because “there are little ones at home with women, and the family is getting really, really important and we’ll have a happy bunch of players getting on that plane. , and the ones we need to leave behind, we’ll take them home. We will find a way. ”
The Winnipeg Jets were the only Canadian team to play on Sunday – welcoming and beating the St. Louis Blues 4-2 – after three games involving Canadian teams have already been postponed.
âI think the most important thing is when you win a hockey game that you want to play the next day,â said Jets interim coach Dave Lowry. âIt’s going to get us out of there for a few days. But what this will allow us to do is come back and work on some details of our game that we hope to continue to improve. “
Jets center Mark Scheifele said the team learned of the postponements moments after the game.
“You never know at the moment,” he said. âYou could see it coming sort of, we weren’t really sure, so obviously we now know and are waiting to see what happens. We’ll keep rolling with the punches.
All the disruption related to COVID-19 could cause NHL players to stay home instead of competing in the Winter Olympics in less than two months. The NHL has said players can compete in Beijing unless the coronavirus becomes an issue.
The league has until Jan. 10 to withdraw from the Winter Games without financial penalty, but reserves the right to cancel plans until players make it to Beijing. The NHL and NHLPA have announced that they will announce a final decision in the coming days.
Scheifele called the uncertainty “concerning”.
“It’s no longer in our hands, you know what I mean?” You just have to trust the plan and keep doing what you’re doingâ¦ and hope for the best, âhe said.
To slow the spread of the coronavirus, the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to daily testing and other improved protocols until January 1, with an assessment no later than January 7. ___
AP freelance writer Rich Dubroff contributed to this report.
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