NHL introduces enhanced COVID-19 protocols: What do they mean for season, Olympics?

Similar to the NBA and NFL, the NHL is coping with a COVID-19 outbreak of its personal because the omicron variant begins to take a bigger maintain.

As of Dec. 18, greater than 60 gamers are within the league’s COVID protocols and 5 groups — the Bruins, Predators, Flames, Panthers and Avalanche — are on pause by means of the league’s upcoming vacation break, which can finish Dec. 26.

MORE: Full checklist of video games, occasions postponed amid newest COVID outbreak


According to ESPN, the league is just contemplating a full shutdown as “a final resort,” although “issues are trying fairly grim,” reporter Emily Kaplan stated on Twitter.

From @SportsCenter tonight… this is the most recent on the place issues stand within the NHL after a busy day.

The NHL is hoping it will probably keep away from a full-on pause & is taking issues on a case-by-case foundation. But issues are trying grim…..for Olympic participation, too.

— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) December 17, 2021


The league carried out the brand new protocols after what transpired through the previous week.

Sporting News has every part you might want to learn about what is going on on within the NHL and the way the league is dealing with this outbreak.

What is within the NHL’s new COVID-19 protocols?

In a memo despatched to all 32 groups and signed by commissioner Gary Bettman, there are six areas of emphasis within the new protocols, with the majority of them involving prevention and testing.

Notably, the protocols apply to each vaccinated and unvaccinated gamers.


As to prevention, these are among the measures the league is recommending:

  • Wearing masks always inside Club services and through journey, together with when on buses, planes, and on the lodge (except exercising, taking part in a sport, or consuming or ingesting)
  • Virtual conferences, or solely transient in-person conferences in massive well-ventilated areas
  • It is strongly beneficial that you just put on masks when in public indoor locations in your group.
  • It is strongly beneficial that you just put on a N95, KN95 or a surgical masks, not a fabric masks.
  • Physical distancing for meals (at the least one empty chair) in each on the Club’s house market and on the street

As for testing, the league has carried out or prompt the next:

  • Daily COVID-19 molecular testing (ideally, molecular point-of-care) for all members of the Club Traveling Party for the period of the interval throughout which these Enhanced Measures are in place
  • Additional pre-game testing could also be carried out, on a case-by-case foundation, when a COVID outbreak happens inside a group, after session with the NHL and NHLPA
  • Consistent with the 2021-22 COVID-19 Protocol, symptomatic people shall be monitored with every day molecular testing till all signs resolve (to the satisfaction of the Club Physician)
  • Notwithstanding the foregoing, there shall be no group testing of Players on their days off or of Players through the 90-day “testing holiday” following a confirmed optimistic analysis

The full checklist of latest protocols may be found here. These new protocols are in place till at the least Jan. 7, at which level the NHL and NHLPA medical specialists will reexamine them.

Could the NHL season be paused?

Multiple media retailers are of the opinion {that a} leaguewide pause is unlikely even with the excessive variety of postponements by means of the vacation break.

The Athletic’s Sean Gentille wrote {that a} full shutdown can be “a Hail Mary try.”

“I additionally don’t assume the NHL desires to be ‘first’ right here; if the NBA or NFL took leaguewide measures, that’d take hockey off the hook,” he wrote.

ESPN’s Emily Kaplan stated the league is in “triage mode” and is “seeking to keep away from a full-on shutdown in any respect prices.”

The league did totally pause the latter a part of final season, from March 12 till play resumed Aug. 1 with a brand new format.

Will the protocols finish the NHL’s participation within the Olympics?

The NHL is planning on sending representatives to Beijing in February, however as commissioner Gary Bettman has said, that’s contingent upon there not being a cloth disruption to the season. He has not specified what is supposed by “materials disruption.”

Kaplan reported the league has till Jan. 10 to tug out of the Olympics with out monetary penalty. With the brand new protocols working till Jan. 7, that does not give the league a lot time to evaluate the state of affairs after which act.


“We are nearing that cliff, if we have not reached that cliff already,” Kaplan stated.

In her estimation, it is changing into an increasing number of unlikely that NHL gamers will take the ice in Beijing given the developments.

According to The Boston Globe, the choice to not take part would in the end be the gamers’. If they choose to not go, it is doubtless that there will likely be a repeat of the 2018 Winter Olympics when it comes to who performs for Team USA. That 12 months, a group of minor league gamers, gamers enjoying in Europe, U.S. collegians and free brokers represented the nation in Pyeongchang, South Korea, after the NHL prohibited its gamers from competing within the Olympics.

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