As Thursday’s NHL schedule gets under way here are updates on COVID-19 situations, highlighted by the Montreal Canadiens hosting the Philadelphia Flyers without fans in attendance at the Bell Centre.
Canadiens host Flyers without fans in attendance at Bell Centre
The Canadiens will host the Flyers in an empty arena game at the request of Quebec public health officials. Along with Thursday’s game against the Flyers, the Hans noted that an update about Saturday’s Bruins game will be provided on Friday.
Generally, it seems like the hope is that fans can return to Canadiens home games in January. The team noted that in this portion of their statement:
We have obtained assurances that beginning with our games in January, we will return to a partial capacity scenario and be able to host fans once more. More details will follow in the days to come and as the portrait of this ever-evolving pandemic becomes clearer.
NHL COVID updates including additional Flames, Devils’ Subban, and more
On Wednesday, the NHL announced enhanced COVID-19 protocols for all 32 teams through at least Jan. 7. As the Canadiens show, some teams/regions will introduce additional steps beyond the NHL’s enhanced COVID-19 protocols.
Here are additional to the NHL COVID-19 protocol list from Thursday.
- The COVID-19 protocol list for the Flames keeps growing, with Dillon Dube, Oliver Kylington, and a staff member added. Arguably, it’s easier to note which Flames players are not in NHL COVID protocol. According to the Athletic’s Hailey Salvian, there are six Flames not in protocol: Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, Blake Coleman, Dan Vladar, Michael Stone, and Brett Ritchie (who is on IR). Darryl Sutter, among other members of the Flames’ staff, is in protocol as well.
At the moment, Flames’ games have been postponed through at least Saturday (Dec. 18).
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- Already with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in protocol, Bruins players Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, and Jeremy Swayman joined them. A Bruins staff member also entered protocol.
- Devils players P.K. Subban and Jesper Bratt entered protocol on Thursday.
- The Panthers’ list grew, leaving Aaron Ekblad and Frank Vatrano unavailable vs. the Kings. Drew Doughty won’t be available on the Kings’ side, as he entered protocol as well.
- Devin Shore of the Oilers entered protocol, too. Oilers coach Dave Tippett missed Tuesday’s game.
- Avalanche players Andre Burakovsky and J.T. Compher entered protocol. Avs coach Jared Bednar told the Athletic’s Peter Baugh that he believes that Burakovsky and Compher are both currently asymptomatic.
- Bergeron, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Johnny Gaudreau, Jacob Markstrom, Mikael Granlund, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaeghe were among the players who entered COVID-19 protocol Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Hurricanes – Wild game was postponed after several players entered protocol. Mathew Barzal ranks among some of the other noteworthy players in NHL protocol.
Nine games have been postponed and more than 130 players have entered NHL protocol this season.
The Omicron variant has been found in some positive test results. All but one current player is vaccinated and many have already received booster shots. Vaccination is not mandated, but encouraged.
There are no indications that the league is planning a shutdown. There is a three-day break coming next week over Christmas, but regularly-scheduled games will be played through Dec. 23 barring any more outbreaks.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.