The New York Islanders will not be playing hockey until at least Wednesday, December 1. On Saturday, the National Hockey League announced its decision to step in and shut down operations within the club for the short-term future, following the continual COVID-19 outbreak.
“As a result of an additional New York Islanders player entering COVID Protocol this morning, and up to eight players potentially unavailable to play due to COVID Protocol, as well as the possibility of additional cases due to spread, the team’s games will be postponed at least through Tuesday, Nov. 30,” the NHL’s statement read. “The decision was made by the league in consultation with the NHLPA’s and club’s medical groups.”
Currently in the process of reviewing and revising the Islanders’ regular season schedule, the league will continue to monitor the developments in New York, in hopes that the Isles will be able to return to regular play in early-December. Having recently shut down the Ottawa Senators for a similar period of time, the NHL has been no stranger to COVID outbreaks since the start of the season.
“The Islanders organization has followed, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of its Players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, local, state and national agencies,” the league continued in its statement.
On Saturday, the Islanders announced that Casey Cizikas was the latest player to join COVID Protocol, joining Kieffer Bellows, Zdeno Chara, Andy Greene, Ross Johnston, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey and Adam Pelech. The team had games scheduled for Sunday and Tuesday this week, which will now need to be made up at a future date.
With the NHL’s Winter Olympics opt-out clause set to expire on January 10, the teams, players, management officials and commissioner will need to make a decision on the NHL’s involvement in the upcoming February games over the next six weeks. But with two full-team shutdowns over the past two weeks, things are not looking positive.
Should COVID case numbers continue to rise and further game cancellations occur, there is a significant possibility that the NHL would boycott the winter games, as a way of ensuring the full 82-game regular season schedule could be completed.
The league will host its 2022 All-Star Weekend from Vegas on February 4-5, before chosen Olympians head to Beijing directly from the festivities.