Before the puck dropped on the 2021 NHL season, the league has already been impacted by COVID-19.
Aside from the start date being pushed to Jan. 13, a number of players have tested positive and four teams had training camps suspended for at least one day or a large number of players miss time. The Stars shut down their camp on Jan. 9 after it was revealed six players and two staff members tested positive. The Penguins canceled training camp the same day while the Blue Jackets had 19 players miss training camp on Friday. On Sunday, the Canucks cancelled practice “out of an abundance of caution due to potential exposure to COVID-19.”
The day before the season was set to begin, the NHL announced that 27 players had tested positive during training camp. Of those, 17 players were members of the Dallas Stars and the statement noted that most of them “are asymptomatic and all of whom are currently recovering without complication.” Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad confirmed on Jan. 11 that he missed the start of camp due to a positive COVID-19 test. On Jan. 13, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar revealed that Erik Johnson had tested positive.
Prior to the league’s opening game on Wednesday, the NHL announced two players would miss the first game in what is being listed under COVID protocol-related absences. Players listed under this category did not necessarily test positive for coronavirus; it could be a precautionary move.
Per the NHL’s press release, the reason a player is listed as “unavailable” due to COVID protocols includes: (1) an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until confirmatory testing is completed; (2) mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals; (3) required quarantine as a high-risk close contact; (4) isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or; (5) quarantine for travel or other reasons.
The NHL will release names prior to every game.
NHL players out of games because of COVID-19
Jan. 13 vs. Blues
Jan. 13 vs. Canucks
Gaetan Haas, James Neal
Jan. 13 vs. Penguins
Jan. 13 vs. Flyers
Jan. 13 vs. Oilers
Jordie Benn, JT Miller