NHL to pause season over Covid-19 issues

New York (AFP) – The National Hockey League and its players union announced early Tuesday that the season will pause on Wednesday, two days before a previously scheduled Christmas break, due to Covid-19 concerns.


Five remaining games scheduled for Thursday were postponed, raising the total number of delayed contests to 49 as nine clubs had already decided to shut down until for the holiday.

Two remaining scheduled games will be played on Tuesday with Washington at Philadelphia and reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay at the Vegas Golden Knights.

All games Wednesday had already been scrapped due to Covid-19 issues and Thursday's schedule was delayed in order to start a Christmas break early, with all 32 teams taking a pause until Sunday.

Players report back to teams on Sunday for Covid-19 testing, practice or travel. No member of a team's travel group will be allowed to enter a team facility for more than testing until they produce a negative test result.

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens had become the eighth and ninth league clubs to shut down after Covid-19 outbreaks.

The NHL announced on Sunday that games involving teams to cross the US-Canada border were off until after the holiday break over concerns about changes in travel restrictions.

"The most important thing is the health and safety of the players and coaches and everyone involved with the organizations," Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn said after his team's 7-4 triumph over Minnesota in Monday's only NHL contest.

"Just taking it day by day. Hopefully the numbers go down and we can get back to hockey after Christmas."

With Covid-19 uncertainty and the number of postponed contests, NHL and union officials are discussing whether or not players should participate as planned in February's Beijing Winter Olympics.