NHL postpones three more games due to COVID-19 concerns

Crews clean as the ice is resurfaced at American Airlines Arena, home of the Dallas Stars. (Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

The NHL postponed three more games on Monday as the league continues to deal with COVID-19 issues.

Among the postponements are Wednesday’s contest between the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets along with a two-game, home-and-home set between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.

Makeup dates for those games have not been announced. The total number of games that have been postponed is now 67.

The league announced late Sunday that Tuesday’s Columbus Blue Jackets at Chicago Blackhawks game, Wednesday’s Pittsburgh Penguins against the Toronto Maple Leafs contest and Boston Bruins in Ottawa have been postponed because of COVID-19 concerns.

The NHL says three other games scheduled for Tuesday are still slotted to be played including the Montreal Canadiens taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning as the league attempts to return from a pause that started on Dec. 22.

The league also announced the implementation of taxi squads as well as CBA modifications confirmed in reporting earlier on Sunday.

Each team will be allowed to have a taxi squad of up to six players and to make emergency recalls from the minors if COVID-19 absences would cause anyone to play without a full lineup. Taxi squads, which were used during the shortened 2021 season, are set to be in effect until at least the All-Star break in early February.

Under the new provisions, any team shy of having 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders available can bring up a player from the American Hockey League without playing a game with fewer than the usual 18 skaters. Emergency recalls also can be made of players with salary-cap hits of up to $1 million, an increase from the previous $850,000 limit.

Players on the taxi squad will count as being in the minors for cap purposes. They can be there for a maximum of 20 days.

The goal of the changes is to keep the NHL season going. All 14 games initially scheduled for Monday previously were postponed to allow for analyzing of COVID-19 tests taken Sunday by players, coaches and staff upon returning to team facilities.

The NHL began its annual Christmas break two days earlier than anticipated last week amid a rapid increase of positive COVID-19 test results among players. At the time, more than a quarter of the league’s 32 teams were shut down because of outbreaks.

Because of its seven teams based in Canada, the NHL cannot follow the lead of the NFL by not doing blanket testing of fully vaccinated, asymptomatic players. Lamoriello said league officials are doing their best without any control over rules and restrictions set out by the Canadian federal and provincial governments.

— With files from The Associated Press.

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