If anyone thought the COVID-19 pandemic was a thing of the past, they only have to look at the world of sports to see that the virus is still exerting its influence across the globe. The NHL became the latest league to postpone games due to the coronavirus on Monday, canceling three Calgary Flames games after six players and one staff member entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol in a single day.
The Flames postponed a Monday night game at Chicago against the Blackhawks, along with a Tuesday game in Nashville and a Thursday home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Flames, Hurricanes both dealing with COVID-19 cases
This marks the third time the NHL has postponed games due to COVID-19 this season. The Ottawa Senators lost three games earlier this season, while the New York Islanders postponed two.
The Flames revealed that forwards Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Brad Richardson, and Adam Ruzicka are all in the COVID-19 protocol, along with defensemen Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov.
While vaccination requirements in the NHL and other major sports leagues have limited the number of severe – or even symptomatic – cases, players and staff members have still contracted COVID-19, triggering isolations, further testing, and postponements. If the NHL’s coronavirus issues intensify over the next month, it could jeopardize the participation of the league’s players in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The Flames aren’t the only team dealing with a potential COVID-19 outbreak. Also on Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that centers Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis had entered the protocol, along with a member of the team’s training staff. Carolina has yet to postpone any games due to its COVID situation.
As COVID-19 cases increase in many parts of the United States and other countries, other leagues are also reporting increases in players entering their coronavirus protocols.
NFL, NBA preparing for increasing infections
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the NFL saw 37 positive COVID-19 cases on Monday, citing sources. While Monday numbers tend to be high in the NFL, as that is the day most teams have all vaccinated players and staff take their mandatory weekly tests, that number is still unusually high. Schefter reported that the NFL and NFLPA are considering strengthening the league’s COVID-19 protocols as the league enters the final four weeks of its regular season.
Meanwhile, NBA officials told ESPN they expect an increase in positive cases as winter begins. This is due both to the rise of the omicron variant, as well as the expected seasonal increase in the disease.
“This is so much more manageable than it was a year ago,” an Eastern Conference general manager told ESPN. “In general, the urgency is not there like it was then. [But] things can change in a week or two.”
The COVID-19 outbreaks aren’t contained to just the United States. In England, the Premier League reported 42 positive tests among players and staff over the past week, the most for any week since the start of the pandemic.