The NHL has more roster of players in COVID protocols, with the number apparently growing by the hour. The obvious thing to do, the thing we would have expected in the era of “plenty of caution” (remember that?) Would be for the league to shut things down. for a couple of weeks, change your schedule accordingly and try again once this increase is exceeded.
While the league doesn’t want to do that, not with tickets already sold and some tickets (gasp) having to be refunded due to mandatory reduced capacities in Canadian cities, COVID-19 and the Omicron variant still don’t give a single, lonely fuck up. what anyone wants to do.
The Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers have postponed their games until Christmas on Friday, joining the Calgary Flames, who last played on Sunday and will now be on hiatus until after the NHL holiday break.
As a reminder that the novel coronavirus is highly contagious, the Flames’ last game was a 4-2 defeat to the Boston Bruins, who have since had many of their players inserted into health and safety protocols and had to play against the Islanders on Thursday night with only 11 forwards. The Bruins’ Saturday game against the Canadiens was also canceled, and perhaps the good news is that the islanders don’t have to worry about getting the virus from the Bruins … because New York is already has COVID problems and I just got back from postponed matches.
Every sports league in the world is facing COVID in one way or another right now, but we knew it from more than a year that hockey is particularly difficult because you play on a sheet of ice and the cold, humid air is extremely friendly to viruses. That’s why, even in good times, hockey has annual flu problems, and so does the occasional outbreak of mumps.
The three teams whose schedules were canceled for next week had games on tap against Columbus, Boston, Chicago, Anaheim, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Nashville, Detroit, Buffalo and Minnesota. In other words, nearly half of the league is affected by this, and it’s not like COVID problems are limited to just Colorado, Florida and Calgary.
The NHL already has a two-week hiatus in its schedule ahead of the Olympics, where player participation is already present up in the air due to the uncertainty about the protocols. It would be easy enough, not to mention the right thing to do, to pull the plug in Beijing now, take the last two weeks of 2021 and use that Olympic period for makeup games.
The virus may simply decide that’s what’s going on anyway.