2 more Flames players added to COVID protocol as organizational outbreak widens
Habs-Flyers played sans spectators at Bell Centre; Jets maintain 100 per cent capacity
- Calgary Flames outbreak grows to overall player total of 18
- Canadiens host Flyers without fans on Thursday as cases rise in Quebec
- Winnipeg Jets to maintain 100 percent capacity at Canada Life Centre
- Lakers' Westbrook becomes latest NBA star to enter league protocol
- Chicago Bears have 3 co-ordinators added to protocol, Seattle adds WR, RB
The Calgary Flames announced two more players and another member of the team's support staff were added to the NHL's COVID-19 protocol Thursday, bringing the organization's total number to 18 players and 11 hockey staff.
Flames centre Dillon Dube and defenceman Oliver Kylington joined 16 of their teammates in protocol, while 12 other employees are also currently in isolation.
"Everyone is doing well," Peter Hanlon, VP of communication for the Calgary Flames, confirmed to CBC News in an email.
Hanlon also confirmed that some of the cases are from the Omicron variant.
By far the worst coronavirus outbreak in the NHL this season, Calgary has already seen four games postponed through Saturday, but it's likely more will be scratched with almost the entire roster sidelined.
The Flames announced Wednesday that 17 members of the organization had been placed in protocol, including head coach Darryl Sutter, star winger Johnny Gaudreau and No. 1 goalie Jacob Markstrom.
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The Edmonton Oilers also announced forward Devin Shore has joined centre Ryan McLeod and head coach Dave Tippett in protocol.
The Boston Bruins, meanwhile, placed forwards Anton Blidh and Trent Frederic, goalie Jeremey Swayman and a team staff member into protocol, joining captain Patrice Bergeron, star winger Brad Marchand and centre Craig Smith.
The NHL has seen a sharp rise in players entering its COVID-19 protocol in recent weeks, including a massive jump since Monday.
Habs-Flyers played in empty Bell Centre
The Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers played in an empty Bell Centre on Thursday night.
The team says in a statement it accepted the request "in order to help ensure the safety and security of our fans and fellow citizens."
The Canadiens add there will be an update on the status of Saturday's game against the Boston Bruins, who currently have a six players in COVID-19 protocol, including captain Patrice Bergeron and star winger Brad Marchand.
Montreal says it has been assured it will be allowed to return to partial capacity at the Bell Centre beginning in January.
Jets to maintain 100 per cent capacity at home games
True North Sports + Entertainment, owner of the Winnipeg Jets, confirmed in a statement that Canada Life Centre will remain at 100 per cent capacity for now.
The company said it "remains committed to ensuring a safe and comfortable environment for all guests and employees," and will "actively encourage" mask use. Those who don't comply with the rules will be met with "stringent enforcement," according to a press release.
All fans and employees need to be double vaccinated, if 12 or older, to attend games at the Canada Life Centre.
The Jets will face the Washington Capitals on Friday at their home arena and will also host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
Westbrook latest NBA star to join league protocol
Russell Westbrook entered the NBA's health and safety protocols Thursday, joining Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brooklyn's James Harden as past league MVP's currently sidelined by coronavirus concerns.
Westbrook played 42 minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night in their overtime win at Dallas. The Lakers said he would not play Friday night in Minnesota, along with four other players because of virus issues and two more because of injuries.
All that means the Lakers would have no more than 10 available players on their roster for the game against the Timberwolves. If granted permission by the NBA to sign reinforcements and temporarily exceed the roster-size limit, the team was planning to sign former All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day hardship contract Friday, according to a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
As of Thursday evening, there were at least 39 players — roughly 8 per cent of the league's total player roster — from at least 13 different teams known to be in the league's protocols. Chicago had a league-high eight players known to be in protocols, one more than Brooklyn. Harden and Antetokounmpo both entered the protocols earlier this week.
Bears' 3 co-ordinators added to NFL protocol
The Chicago Bears were missing all three of their co-ordinators because of COVID-19 protocols as they prepared Thursday for Monday night's home game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, defensive coordinator Sean Desai and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor were participating remotely in meetings this week. Their status for the game is uncertain.
COVID-19 has hit the Bears hard this week, one of many teams experiencing positive tests. Approximately 100 players across the 32 teams have tested positive.
Seattle Seahawks, meanwhile, might be without one of its stars, receiver Tyler Lockett, who was put on the COVID-19 list Thursday along with running back Alex Collins. The Seahawks had no players test positive in the 2020 season, but have had three this year: Tight end Gerald Everett was the other in September.
EPL calls off 4 more games
The Premier League postponed four more matches scheduled for this weekend due to COVID-19 outbreaks at Brentford, Watford, Norwich City and Leicester City, it announced on Thursday. The league earlier said Manchester United's game against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday had been called off, as was Thursday's game between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
4 more Real Madrid players test positive
Real Madrid players Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Rodrygo, Andriy Lunin and an assistant coach have joined its group infected by a coronavirus outbreak, the Spanish club said on Thursday.
The assistant coach infected was Davide Ancelotti, son of head coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Madrid leads the Spanish league. It plays Cadiz on Sunday and three days later faces Athletic Bilbao before the winter break.
With files from CBC News