NHL postpones three more games due to Canadian attendance restrictions

On this edition of 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discuss Canadian teams playing at home without fans, AHL players that could possibly go to the Olympics and the latest news from the CHL.

The NHL has postponed three additional games due to Canadian attendance restrictions, the league announced Wednesday.

The games are:

• New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 15
• Devils at Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 17
• Chicago Blackhawks at Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 18

The NHL has postponed more than 90 games so far this season due to COVID-19 concerns. As all seven teams in Canada are playing under various levels of attendance restrictions imposed by provincial governments — from as low as zero per cent in Quebec to as high as 50 per cent in Alberta — the league has postponed a number of Canadian team games with hopes of rescheduling said games at a later date when more fans will be allowed back in the building.

In the next 14 days, the Oilers' only scheduled game is against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 10. The Senators, who've only played 29 games so far this season, are scheduled to play all the games of their upcoming Western Canada road trip despite attendance restrictions because they don't "have a lot of room left on their schedule for (the NHL) to build in West Coast swings," according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

On Monday, Daly said the NHL wasn't expecting many more games north of the border to be postponed due to attendance issues during an interview with Sportsnet 590 The FAN, as the league is running out of time to make up the games already postponed.

"I wouldn't say we're at that point definitively yet, but I think that we're basically there," Daly told The FAN Drive Time's Ben Ennis and Stephen Brunt. "I think what we've done for the Canadian franchises, to this point, it contemplates postponements out through kind of the middle of January. That's about as far as we can go. I don't expect to see a lot of Canadian home dates further moved — I think we're pretty much there."

Daly also said the league currently has enough room built into its schedule to complete a full 82-game season.

In his latest 32 Thoughts blog, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said that teams will have to play through the scheduled Olympic Break from Feb. 7 to 22.

"Some teams will have to play through it, with varying degrees of schedule intensity. The hope was to give everyone approximately a week off, but that won’t be possible in several situations -- particularly in Canada," he wrote.

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