Rising COVID-19 cases continue to ravage the NHL.
Wednesday’s news is no different, as the league announced that seven players and three coaches from the Calgary Flames have entered health and safety protocols, with Rasmus Andersson, Byron Froese, Johnny Gaudreau, Erik Gudbranson, Trevor Lewis, Jacob Markstrom, and Tyler Pitlick landing on the COVID list alongside coach Darryl Sutter and assistants Ryan Huska and Kirk Muller.
The news reveals yet another massive spike in the rising cases numbers across all professional sports over the past few days, with 32 NHLers entering health and safety protocols in the past 48 hours amid a wave of postponements.
The Flames were already in the midst of a league-instituted mini-pause of their own when this news broke after six players entered protocols on Monday, thereby postponing the team’s scheduled games through Dec. 16. That pause will likely be extended after this latest round of testing, which now has 17 total members of the Flames organization on the COVID list at the moment.
Additionally, this almost certainly puts a nail in the coffin of the NHL’s participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. With reportedly stringent quarantine protocols and outbreaks popping up across the league, it’s highly unlikely that the NHL will find it feasible to pause their season in mid-February.
The league has until Jan. 10 to decide whether to opt-out or not. At this point, it’s not looking good.