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The NHL is following the NFL and NBA’s suit in altering its COVID-19 protocols.
That entails reducing the quarantine period for players who test positive from 10 days to five, per ESPN’s Emily Kaplan. The updated protocols fall right in line with the CDC’s recommendation, which was announced Monday.
As opposed to the NFL and NBA, however, the NHL’s inclusion of seven Canadian teams creates more obstacles. According to the memo sent to all 32 teams, the protocols only apply if approved by local health authorities. That would certainly apply to teams in Canada, where COVID-19 protocols are much more stricter than in the U.S.
COVID-19 has impacted the NHL’s 2021-22 season far more than any of the big four sports. As of Wednesday, 80 games have been postponed, including nine on Tuesday, all involving games played in the the Canadian provinces.
The NHL and NHLPA officially opted not to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, due to COVID-19 concerns. The NHL has a near 100% vaccination rate. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Kaplan that the league still intends to finish the 82-game regular season in April.
Some of the game’s biggest stars have spoke out about the previously strict protocols, including the Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck and the Bruins’ Brad Marchand.
Marchand was very vocal Tuesday for the NHL’s decision to opt out of the Olympics.
“The NHL and NHLPA can change the rules of the CBA to add a taxi squad so that they don’t miss any games and don’t lose any money — which has already been agreed upon that the players will pay back in escrow until the owners are made whole from what they have lost during this pandemic, regardless of how many games are missed,” Marchand wrote. “Yet they can’t do a taxi squad during the Olympics so they can honor the agreement they made so the NHL players can go [to Beijing].
“Please tell me that’s not bulls—. And for all of you who want to pipe back about forfeiting pay while being gone, yah not a problem. Let the players make their choice.”
Go ahead and add Marchand’s teammate to the list, Taylor Hall, who said Tuesday that the NHL needed to update its protocols, per Kaplan.
“Hopefully, we can start moving along with COVID,” Hall said. “I don’t think we’re going to move past it, but we have to accept that this is going to be part of our lives and, hopefully, guys like me don’t have to miss 10 days of action when we don’t feel any symptoms.”
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