NHL issues memo to teams reiterating rules to mitigate spread of COVID-19

Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston look at the latest news from around the NHL, talking about the Canucks' positive COVID-19 tests and the possibility of a playoff bubble.

The NHL issued a memo to its teams on Saturday reiterating the rules, regulations and best-practices for mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Basically what the league said is that we have begun to encounter incidents of non-compliance with our protocol,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported during the Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada. “And it warned that this is not the time to slip and everyone had to remain vigilant.”

The memo’s release comes the same day the Vancouver Canucks announced a total of 14 players on their team were in the league’s COVID-19 protocols — marking one of the worst outbreaks any North American professional sports team has faced so far — however, at this time, ​there is no indication Canucks players acted in ways that were non-compliant with the NHL’s rules.

Mask wearing, even if a player has been vaccinated, was one of the topics covered in the memo. Though all approved coronavirus vaccines are successful at preventing disease and death from the virus, current research suggests transmission from vaccinated individuals is unlikely but cannot yet be ruled impossible.

As Friedman noted, that reminder carries more weight currently for players in the United States, where vaccine rollouts have led to larger swaths of the population becoming eligible to receive the vaccination.

Not going to restaurants, strongly discouraging card playing — even if masked — and urging coaches to refrain from pulling down their masks while talking to players or officials during games were also points in the memo.

“It was just a reminder,” Friedman said. “With what’s happened in Vancouver and some of the more recent situations, we can’t afford to slip up as a group.”

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