Over the past week, a surge in COVID-19 cases has hit all of the major sports. The NHL has experienced this especially.
As of Sunday, 112 players have entered COVID protocol since last Saturday, Dec. 11. There are also multiple coaches and officialsDespite that, the NHL is continuing to press on as they can, announcing a series of updates on Sunday evening.
The NHL will continue to play the 2021-22 season schedule, citing a low number of positive cases resulting in concerning symptoms or serious illness. The league will continue to monitor positive cases on a club-by-club basis and determine the need to shut down individual teams based on that. The Flyers are still operating, with only two players in COVID protocol as of Sunday morning.
The league also announced the postponement of 12 additional games over the next week that involve cross-border travel between the US and Canada. The NHL and NHL Players Association are also discussing NHL player participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics and are expected to announce a final decision in the coming days.
Seven teams have ceased operations and paused until after Christmas. The NHL has a mandatory freeze with no games scheduled from Dec. 24 through Dec. 26, and several teams have decided to take an early break with an increased number of cases affecting their teams.
The list of teams on pause is below.
- Calgary Flames - 16 players in COVID protocol
- Colorado Avalanche - 5 players in COVID protocol
- Florida Panthers - 7 players in COVID protocol
- Boston Bruins - 9 players in COVID protocol
- Nashville Predators - 8 players in COVID protocol
- Detroit Red Wings - 9 players in COVID protocol
- Toronto Maple Leafs - 7 players in COVID protocol
In the Flyers case, only Morgan Frost and Max Willman are on the COVID protocol list, as well as “a team staffer.” Additionally, Carter Hart missed Saturday’s game due to an undetermined illness. The Flyers had an off day on Sunday and therefore were not tested, per the league’s updated protocols.
The Flyers only have two games remaining prior to the holiday break. They face the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night at home, then face the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road on Thursday night. As of Sunday night, Washington had four players in COVID protocol. Pittsburgh is one of 11 teams in the league with no players currently in COVID protocol.
Tuesday’s game is certainly more up in the air at the moment than Thursday’s. Washington added two players to protocol on Sunday and the Flyers added one on Saturday. With the potential for more prior to the game, it’s possible that either team could experience more of an outbreak and need to postpone the game.
If the Flyers were to have Tuesday’s game postponed due to Washington’s COVID situation, they could still play on Thursday if things remain manageable with their own situation as well as in Pittsburgh.
There is a lot subject to change with the schedule in the next few days, but there seems to be a consensus that the NHL is going to back out of sending players to the Olympics, thus opening up a near three-week window in February to make up games as needed on the schedule. At the moment, the Flyers have only had one game postponed, a Nov. 30 matchup at home against the New York Islanders. By comparison, a team like Calgary, who was the first to pause operations a week ago, has postponed six games.
So for now, it’s game on and business as usual, at least for the Flyers. But nothing is a certainty at this point.