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NHL puts games on official pause Wednesday through the Christmas holiday

Players will be getting an extended holiday break this season.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Blues haven’t played in Ottawa since October of 2019, and they’re going to have to wait a while longer. Tonight’s game against the Senators had already been included in part of the NHL’s postponement slate for all cross-border travel, as was Thursday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Other teams have begun to join the postponement fun regardless of travel status. Last night, the only game left on the schedule was a matchup between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars, and there were no games schedule for Wednesday night due to the holiday break. The league decided it would be prudent to officially pause the league through December 26th, with games resuming on December 27th.

Tonight’s Capitals at Flyers and Lightning at Golden Knights games will, presumably, go on as scheduled. The Blues will be able to hold one last practice before break as well.

From the NHL’s press release:

NEW YORK/TORONTO (Dec. 20, 2021) – With no games currently scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 22, because of COVID-related postponements, the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association have agreed to postpone the five games that remain scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 23, in order to begin the collectively-bargained Holiday Break effective with the conclusion of games tomorrow night, Dec. 21.

Under the revised schedule, Dec. 22, Dec. 23, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 (Christmas Day) shall be off days for all purposes — including travel.

Players will report back to their Clubs on Dec. 26, which shall be used for testing, practice and/or travel only. Upon return from the Holiday Break to team facilities, no individual in the team’s Traveling Party shall enter the facility (other than for testing purposes) until they have a negative test result. Any practice scheduled for Dec. 26 must begin after 2:00 p.m. local time.

The League’s regular-season schedule will resume on Monday, Dec. 27.

Whether or not league officials will be taking some of this time to sit down with medical professionals to discuss the safest and most prudent way of going forward has not been announced, but it would be surprising to discover that they didn’t do so. With the rapidity of spread of the omicron variant coupled with holiday travel for players and staff, the league may be looking at future cancellations depending on circumstances. Hopefully this won’t be the case.

There have been rumors of using the Olympic break to makeup postponed games, but no official announcement on the league’s participation in Beijing has been released.