- NHL shuts down a trio of teams
- Canadiens-Bruins game postponed
- Leafs’ Tavares, Kerfoot added to NHL’s COVID-19 protocol
- NHL shuts down Flames, Avalanche and Panthers through holiday break
- Oilers’ Nugent-Hopkins added to COVID protocol
- NFL moves 3 Week 15 games
- U.S. athletes will not require COVID-19 booster to compete in Beijing
The Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers have all been shut down until after the holiday break due to COVID concerns, the National Hockey League announced.
As a result of the three teams being shut down, the following games have been postponed:
- Calgary: Dec. 18 vs. Columbus; Dec. 21 vs. Anaheim; Dec. 23 vs. Seattle.
- Colorado: Dec. 18 vs. Tampa Bay; Dec. 20 at Detroit; Dec. 22 at Buffalo; Dec. 23 at Boston.
- Florida: Dec. 18 at Minnesota; Dec. 21 at Chicago; Dec. 23 vs. Nashville.
The Flames also announced centre Mikael Backlund and another member of the team’s support staff have entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol Friday, bringing the number of people sidelined in the organization to 32.
A total of 19 players and 13 club employees are currently in isolation for a team that’s been hit hard by a coronavirus outbreak.
Saturday’s game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre has been postponed, the NHL announced on Friday.
A makeup date has yet to be determined.
The Canadiens hosted the Philadelphia Flyers at the arena behind closed doors on Thursday night, at the request of Quebec health officials amid rising COVID-19 infections.
The Canadiens defeated the Flyers 3-2 as Jonathan Drouin served as the only scorer in a shootout.
“We have accepted this request to ensure the health and safety of our supporters and communities,” the Habs said in a news release late Thursday afternoon.
Currently, vaccine passports are required to attend large sporting events in Quebec, and face coverings are supposed to be worn at all times. There is no capacity limit set. The Bell Centre can seat more than 21,000 fans.
On Thursday, the province reported 2,736 new cases — its highest daily total recorded since Jan. 3, when Quebec was plunged in the virus’s second wave.
WATCH l Sports leagues grapple with threat of widening outbreaks:
Boston has added players to the COVID protocol list in each of the past three days but did play on Thursday in New York against the Islanders.
The Bruins are scheduled to return to the ice on Sunday in Ottawa. The Canadiens will resume their schedule on Monday on the road against the New York Islanders.
Leafs’ Tavares, Kerfoot, Canucks’ Motte in COVID-19 protocol
The Toronto Maple Leafs cancelled their practice in Vancouver on Friday for precautionary reasons after captain John Tavares and forward Alexander Kerfoot were also added to protocol.
Toronto was supposed to play in Calgary on Thursday, but that game was cancelled.
The Leafs say all players and travelling staff were tested Thursday for COVID-19 in Vancouver. The club was informed of the test results Friday morning, and each individual will undergo additional testing.
Toronto is scheduled to play the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday before visiting the expansion Seattle Kraken on Sunday.
The Canucks have five players in COVID-19 protocol after forward Tyler Motte was added to the list on Friday.
NFL moves 3 games
The NFL has moved three games because of COVID-19 outbreaks: Las Vegas at Cleveland from Saturday to Monday; and Seattle at the Los Angeles Rams and Washington at Philadelphia from Sunday to Tuesday.
The Browns could have been without as many as 16 regulars on Saturday, so the game is now scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. EST Monday. It will be televised by NFL Network.
“We have made these schedule changes based on medical advice and after discussion with the NFLPA as we are seeing a new, highly transmissible form of the virus this week resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the league,” the NFL said in a statement. “We continue to make decisions in consultation with medical experts to ensure the health and safety of the NFL community.”
Previously, the NFL did not plan to move any games because of coronavirus outbreaks. It even said forfeits “could be in play.” But recent developments with the omicron strain of COVID-19 has changed the league’s thinking — as did several outbreaks across the league entering Week 15 of the season.
“We will make every effort, consistent with the underlying health and safety principles, to play our full schedule within the current 18 weeks,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo sent to the 32 clubs and obtained by the AP. “Each team is obligated to have its team ready to play at the scheduled time and place. There is no right to postpone a game, and games will not be postponed or rescheduled because of roster issues affecting a particular position group or particular number of players.
“If games are postponed, we will make every effort to minimize the competitive and economic burden on the participating teams.”
Nugent-Hopkins added to protocol
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, the Edmonton Oilers announced on Friday.
Nugent-Hopkins joins Devin Shore who was added to the list on Thursday, Ryan McLeod and Oilers head coach Dave Tippett, who were also placed in the league’s protocol earlier this week.
U.S. athletes will not require COVID-19 booster to compete in Beijing
American athletes competing at the Beijing Winter Games will not be required to have COVID-19 booster shots, the United States Olympic Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Friday.
The USOPC said in September that all U.S. athletes hoping to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics would need to be vaccinated but will not require boosters even as the United States is seeing a surge in cases and the Omicron variant takes hold.
“At this point there is no mandate for a booster vaccine,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland, during a conference call following the final executive board meeting of 2021.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Beijing Olympic organizers have not required athletes to be vaccinated for the Feb. 4-20 Games but participants who have not had a COVID-19 shot will be required to serve a 21-day quarantine before competing.
The IOC did not require athletes who competed at this summer’s Tokyo Games to be vaccinated although it was encouraged.