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Lightning Round: NHL announces enhanced COVID-19 protocols through the New Year

More than 100 players are in COVID-19 protocol.

Detroit Red Wings v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Two Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Yesterday, the NHL announced enhanced COVID-19 protocols through the Holiday season and the New Year. The new measures are similar to the protocols which were imposed during the 2020-21 regular season, including daily COVID-19 testing, using masks inside team facilities, and maintaining physical distance during meals. The new measures will be re-evaluated no later than January 7, 2022.

The reason behind this decision is the increasing number of COVID-19 cases within the league over the last week. Currently there are more than 100 players and staff members in COVID-19 protocols and the number is rapidly increasing.

Yesterday the NHL shut down the Nashville Predators and the Boston Bruins through the holidays, becoming the fourth and the fifth team respectively to be shut down for the next week. They joined the Calgary Flames, the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers, who have been shut down previously.

The league also postponed yesterday’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks after the Leafs placed several players and staff members, including their head coach Sheldon Keefe and goaltender Jack Campbell, on COVID protocol. Tonight’s game against the Seattle Kraken and the Arizona Coyotes has been postponed too.

The Detroit Red Wings have also placed their head coach Jeff Blashill, an assistant coach and three players in COVID-19 protocol on Saturday and brought in the Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Ben Simon and assistant Todd Krygier to be behind the Red Wings’ behcn during the yesterday’s game against the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are also missing P.K. Subban, who entered the COVID-19 protocol.

Per Elliotte Friedman the league discussed a shutdown until January 1 and resuming with the Winter Classic, but there’s no consensus on that question as there’s no guarantee that the situation will be better in two weeks.

Yesterday the NFL announced that they will stop testing asymptomatic and double-vaccinated players for COVID-19, but according to Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist with Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ontario, it’s too early for the NHL. (Vaccinated and asymptomatic people who get COVID might have a light case and a shorter infectious period, but can still infect other people who might be more at risk.)

Speaking of the Tampa Bay Lightning, despite yesterday’s postponement of the game against the Colorado Avalanche, the team has not been directly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak within the league and have not placed any player in the protocol so far. Reportedly the Lightning are one of the first teams in the league who offered booster shots to their players.