- Kristen Shilton is a national NHL reporter for ESPN.
The NHL made another round of postponements on Saturday amid a growing number of COVID-19 cases around the league.
Nashville and Boston will both be shut down through Christmas. The Predators have eight players and several coaches placed in COVID-19 protocols and were due to play Carolina on Sunday and Winnipeg on Tuesday.
The Bruins — also with eight players in protocols — had been previously scheduled to play Montreal on Saturday, but that game was shelved on Friday, and now they will not play in Ottawa on Sunday or against Carolina on Tuesday.
Additionally, the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs both had their next two games postponed. Those teams were supposed to play each other on Saturday, but a sixth member of the Canucks tested positive on Saturday morning and the Leafs have four players in protocols. Toronto was supposed to play Seattle on Sunday, while the Canucks’ game against Arizona on Sunday will be rescheduled.
On top of health and safety concerns, the NHL has had to consider repercussions of players and staff crossing the U.S.-Canada border and potentially returning positive tests while traveling. The league announced on Saturday newly enhanced COVID-19 protocols that include daily testing, and anyone who comes back positive while traveling is subject to obey quarantine mandates. Understandably, players and staff have concerns about being forced to isolate away from family around the holidays.
At this point, a leaguewide shutdown would be the NHL’s “last resort” if there’s a sense that it cannot contain enough COVID-19 spreads. The hope is to continue postponements on a case-by-case basis until the Christmas break begins on Thursday.
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