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Reports: NHL to temporarily pause season due to COVID-19 concerns

Yahoo Sports Canada logo Yahoo Sports Canada 2021-12-21 Thomas Williams

The NHL reportedly made the tough decision on Monday to pause all operations in the middle of the season to try to control its current COVID-19 outbreak.

According to multiple reports, the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to put a pause to any play or practice from Dec. 22-25, with current plans to re-open on Dec. 26 and the first games taking place the following day.

"Upon return from the holiday break to team facilities, no individual in the team's travelling party shall enter (other than for testing purposes) until they have a negative test result,” a memo from the NHL reportedly said.

This means that even if games are scheduled and teams are back to being operational, players can still be held out of practices and games. If teams cannot ice a full roster in consideration with the players on their COVID protocol list and their cap, then games can still potentially be postponed after the league returns from this break.

The NHL will be heading into a league-wide pause for a few days. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) The NHL will be heading into a league-wide pause for a few days. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Over 40 NHL games have been postponed in the last couple of weeks, and 119 players are on the COVID protocol list. Due to the schedule shuffle – and some other virus-related factors – NHL players are most likely not going to be participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics. One positive outcome is that the three-week break scheduled for the best-on-best tournament could serve as a time to play these make-up games.

The NHL currently has two games scheduled on Tuesday before the pause, with the Flyers facing the Capitals, and the Lightning playing the Golden Knights.

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