NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 19, 2021
The NHL implements enhanced COVID guidelines as positive tests keep rising and more games are postponed. Check out the latest plus recaps of Saturday’s games in today’s morning coffee headlines
LATEST NHL COVID-19 UPDATES AND POSTPONEMENTS
NHL.COM: The NHL and NHL Players Association yesterday announced the immediate adoption of enhanced COVID-19 measures given the emergence of the Omicron variant and the rising number of positive tests among players. The measures will be in place until at least Jan. 7, 2022.
The notable changes include daily testing for players except for off days. Additional pre-game testing could be implemented on a case-by-case basis when an outbreak occurs among a team following consultation with the league and the PA.
Players and all members of the training staff are “strongly recommended” to wear masks at teams facilities and in public indoor places and maintain physical distancing during meals. They are also banned from eating or drinking in indoor restaurants and bars open to the general public. They must avoid public transport and reduce interactions with the general public. Club-organized parties and autograph sessions are prohibited.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the NHL has discussed pausing its schedule until Jan. 1. While there are some players who support this idea, Friedman said most players and teams don’t want to do that. They prefer to see where the protocols and testing go before committing to a schedule pause.
If there is a pause, Friedman said there are those wondering if the players will agree not to go to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in February. However, there has to be clarity on this issue.
The league is asking players to get a booster. There’s been a high turnout among the Tampa Bay Lightning and their AHL affiliate in Syracuse for boosters. The hope is other teams will follow the lead of the defending Stanley Cup champions.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regarding a possible schedule pause, TSN’s Darren Dreger suggested it could come down to whether there are enough available players to actually play the games.
The league and the PA seem to be holding out hope that they can reach the upcoming Christmas break (Dec. 24-26). That would allow a bit of time to slow the spread and allow for players who previously tested positive to return to the lineup following their mandatory 10-day quarantine.
That will depend upon whether the pace of positive tests slows in the coming days. It could reach the point where the league will have no choice but to implement a pause until New Year’s Day.
SPORTSNET is also daily tracking the number of positive COVID-19 tests among the NHL teams.
The latest to enter COVID protocols on Saturday include the following:
BOSTON BRUINS: Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar. The Bruins schedule has also been postponed until after the upcoming Christmas holiday break.
DETROIT RED WINGS: Filip Zadina, Givani Smith, Carter Rowney, Alex Nedeljkovic and coaches Jeff Blashill and Alex Tanguay.
EDMONTON OILERS: Jesse Puljujarvi.
LOS ANGELES KINGS: Cal Petersen.
MONTREAL CANADIENS: Artturi Lehkonen. They also placed forwards Mathieu Perreault and Joel Armia on injured reserve for non-COVID-related reasons.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS had their remaining games leading up to the holiday break postponed by the league.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS: P.K. Subban.
NEW YORK RANGERS: Patrik Nemeth.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: Max Willman. Goaltender Carter Hart was unavailable for Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators owing to a non-COVID-related illness.
ST. LOUIS BLUES: Oskar Sundqvist.
SEATTLE KRAKEN: Jamie Oleksiak.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Jack Campbell, T.J. Brodie, Travis Dermott and head coach Sheldon Keefe. The Leafs games for Saturday against Vancouver and Sunday against Seattle have been postponed.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Tyler Myers.
NHL.COM: Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin tallied his first career hat trick to lead his club over the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Tyler Bertuzzi also scored twice for the Wings. The Devils have lost nine of their last 10 games.
Joe Pavelski tallied two goals and set up two others as the Dallas Stars snapped a five-game losing skid by downing the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on an overtime goal by John Klingberg. Stars center Roope Hintz collected three assists.
There was a scary moment in the first period when Stars forward Tanner Kero was stretchered from the ice following a hit by Blackhawks forward Brett Connolly, who was ejected from the game. Kero was later reported to be conscious, alert and responsive but was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
The Carolina Hurricanes (43 points) reclaimed first place in the overall standings with a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jesper Fast each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes.
Leon Draisaitl picked up three assists as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Seattle Kraken 5-3. Warren Foegele scored two goals and Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist.
An overtime goal by Travis Sanheim lifted the Philadelphia Flyers over the Ottawa Senators 4-3. Claude Giroux scored a goal and tied Bill Barber for the second-most points (883) in Flyers history. Alex Formenton had a goal and an assist for the Senators. Earlier in the day, the Senators indicated defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is expected to miss four weeks with a heel injury.