The NHL has postponed three Ottawa Senators games over the coming week after nearly a dozen players and coaches have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days.

Ottawa Senators COVID COVID-19
The Ottawa Senators have postponed their next three games as a COVID-19 outbreak spreads among the team’s players and coaches. (Image: Icon Sportswire/Getty)

A total of 10 players have returned positive tests, along with assistant coach Jack Capuano.

Senators first team with severe outbreak this season

The Senators will postpone an away game at the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, as well as home games against the Nashville Predators on Thursday and the New York Rangers on Saturday. Presuming their schedule can return to normal, they will next play on Monday, Nov. 22 in Colorado against the Avalanche.

“Some guys have symptoms and some don’t, so I’m not going to get into details,” Ottawa defenseman Michael Del Zotto told reporters on Sunday night. “But when you’re coming to the rink you’re almost crossing your fingers every single day hoping you get through with a negative. It’s been unfortunate and a good learning experience for everyone.”

This marks the first time in the 2021-22 season that the NHL has postponed games due to the coronavirus. That represents a sharp decline from last season when the league moved a total of 51 games for COVID-related reasons.

Other teams have dealt with COVID issues this season, though not to this extent. The San Jose Sharks had seven players miss time due to COVID protocols, while the Pittsburgh Penguins lost star Sidney Crosby for nearly two weeks in the protocol before he returned to the lineup on Sunday night.

Pandemic issues could scuttle Olympic plans

Ottawa opened the season with a 4-10-1 record and doesn’t figure to factor into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. The Senators are currently last in the Atlantic Division. FanDuel Sportsbook rates Ottawa as a +15000 pick to win the Stanley Cup – tied with the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres for the longest odds in the NHL.

In other words, this COVID-19 outbreak likely won’t impact the Stanley Cup odds or even the race for the final playoff spots. But the NHL has other reasons to hope this is an isolated incident.

The NHL and NHLPA agreed to return to the 2022 Winter Olympics, allowing professional players to compete for their countries. However, the two sides can withdraw from the Olympics if the pandemic forces so many cancellations that the league needs the three-week window to properly complete its season. There’s no specific number that would trigger that decision, and these three games shouldn’t approach a threshold for such a move.

For the moment, Ottawa says it is simply doing what it needs to do during the global pandemic.

“The health and safety of the local community, the venue’s patrons, and the organization’s staff and players is Senators Sports & Entertainment’s highest priority,” the franchise said in a statement.