NHL Postpones Cross-Border Games Through Dec. 23, Shuts Down 6th Team as COVID-19 Cases Rise

Starting Monday, all games involving a Canadian-based team versus a U.S.-based team will not be played through at least Thursday, per the NHL and NHLPA

Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty

The NHL has temporarily postponed cross-border games through Dec. 23 and has also shut down six teams as COVID-19 continues to spread across the league.

The National Hockey League announced the move to halt games between the United States and Canada in a joint statement with the NHLPA on Sunday, citing "concern about cross-border travel" and "the fluid nature of federal travel restrictions."

Beginning Monday, all games involving a Canadian-based team playing a U.S.-based team will not be played through at least Thursday. The 12 impacted games will be rescheduled for a later date.

A majority of the remainder of the schedule will be played as planned, minus the half dozen teams that have been put on hold.

Six teams — the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, and, most recently, the Detroit Red Wings — have been shut down through the end of the week due to outbreaks among players and staff.

Despite postponing 27 games so far due to COVID-19 outbreaks, the NHL remains determined to move forward with the 2021-22 season schedule.

"Although there has been a recent increase in positive COVID test results among Players, coaches and hockey staff, there have been a low number of positive cases that have resulted in concerning symptoms or serious illness," Sunday's joint statement read. "Therefore, the NHLPA's and NHL's medical experts have determined that, with virtually all Players and Club hockey staff fully vaccinated, the need to temporarily shut down individual teams should continue to be made on a case-by-case basis."

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Now, the NHL and NHLPA are assessing player participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. An announcement regarding a final decision is expected "in the coming days."

"With the number one priority of maintaining the health and safety of our NHL community, and amid changing and unpredictable conditions, we are determined to remain flexible and adaptable both in terms of scheduling and in adjusting Protocols as necessary," the joint statement continued.

The NFL and NBA have also been postponing games due to COVID-19 outbreaks among their own teams.

On Friday, the NFL announced that three Week 15 games had been postponed to Monday and Tuesday evening amid an increase in positive coronavirus tests access the league. Saturday's game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Cleveland Browns will be played Monday, while Sunday's Washington Football Team-Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks-Los Angeles Rams games have been moved to Tuesday.

Two days later, the NBA announced that five upcoming games had been moved to later dates, including three contests originally scheduled for Sunday, due to the number of players and staff under the league's health and safety protocols.

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