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NHL Goes Back To ‘Enhanced’ COVID Protocol Amidst Outbreaks




With COVID running rampant through the NHL once again, numerous reports stated on early Wednesday evening, the NHL and NHLPA have reportedly decided to reinstate stricter and ‘enhanced’ COVID protocol. Numerous reports also confirmed that the Omicron COVID variant has been present in the over 50 positive COVID cases across the league since Sunday night.

The stricter rules for COVID protocol will be in effect until at least January 7 and potentially longer.

While NHL sources confirmed to Boston Hockey Now that for now, pausing the 2021-22 season as they did in March 2020 when COVID began ravaging North America, is a drop-dead last resort, at least two NHL teams will be playing in front of fewer fans again. Starting this Saturday, capacity at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa, and any venues with a capacity of 1,000 or more, including stadiums, will be capped at 50 percent capacity, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Wednesday.

MLSE, who owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, released the following statement:

“As announced by the province this afternoon, capacities for events at MLSE venues, including Maple Leaf and Raptors games at Scotiabank Arena, will be reduced to fifty per cent capacities effective Saturday as we all work together to prioritize public health with increasing COVID-19 cases in Ontario. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, MLSE remains fully supportive of the province’s decision, and we continue to work closely with our government and public health partners to protect against the spread of COVID-19 within our community. Our ticketing team is currently working through the logistics of implementing this change and will provide follow up details to all ticket holders within 24 hours. Additionally, as was being planned prior to today’s capacity announcement, MLSE’s venue operations team will implement an enhanced mask protocol within the venue beginning with Saturday’s Raptors game called “Operation Mask Up (or out)” that requires all attendees to strictly adhere to all mask-wearing protocols or risk ejection from the building. MLSE also strongly encourages all fans to get vaccinated and closely follow all public health protocols to protect each other and our community at large.”

The Boston Bruins aren’t scheduled to play the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena again until the final game of the regular season on April 29 but they are, however, as of now, still scheduled to play the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre this Sunday. As reported here earlier on Wednesday though, three league sources all confirmed to Boston Hockey Now that the Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, and Senators are all in discussions with the league about postponing the Boston Bruins games in Montreal Saturday and Ottawa on Sunday. As of now though, the common thread as one source put it was “It’s too early to tell”.

Later in the day, another NHL source told BHN the Senators “are extremely concerned” about playing the Bruins in Ottawa Sunday. The Senators had three games postponed in November due to ten players and a staff member going into COVID protocol.

Following off-ice workouts on Wednesday morning, the Bruins flew to Long Island for their game with the New York Islanders at UBS Arena on Thursday night. The plan was for the Bruins to remain an extra day on the Island to minimize the chance that they tested positive in Canada. If any Bruins player does test positive while in Canada, they will be require to qurantine there for two weeks.



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