Dozens of NHL, NBA games postponed as COVID-19 cases rise

The NHL and NHLPA reached an agreement to continue the regular-season schedule despite a rising number of positive COVID-19 cases, and the NBA said several games including the Toronto Raptors game against Orlando on Monday would be postponed.

Cross-border games postponed as more players sidelined by virus

Cody Ceci of the Edmonton Oilers, left, skates ahead of Seattle Kraken's Ryan Donato, centre, in the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday. (Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press)
  • NHL, NHLPA agree to continue regular season schedule; cross-border games postponed through Dec. 23
  • Rafael Nadal tests positive after trip to Abu Dhabi
  • Raptors vs. Magic among several postponed NBA games
  • T.J. Oshie enters NHL's COVID protocol
  • Blue Jackets cancel practice after 3 players enter protocol
  • Hawks' Trae Young placed in NBA's health and safety protocols

The NHL and NHLPA have reached an agreement to continue the regular-season schedule despite a rising number of positive COVID-19 cases and postponements, the league announced Sunday.

In addition, the league also decided to postpone all cross-border games through Dec. 23, effective Monday "due to the concern about cross-border travel and given the fluid nature of federal travel restrictions," the NHL said in release Sunday.

As of Saturday, there have been 27 game postponements and at least 12 more will be postponed through Dec. 23 due to Sunday's decision.

The Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers will each have three games postponed, while the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks will each have two games put on hold for a later date. The Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs will each have one game postponed. The Canadiens also announced that their home arena will be closed and the team will pause all activities through Dec. 26.

"I think the big thing is when you win a hockey game you want to play the next day," said Jets interim head coach Dave Lowry, after Winnipeg's 4-2 win on Sunday. "This will take us out of it for a couple days. But what it will allow us to do is get back and work on some details in our game that we hope to continue to improve on."

WATCH | NHL postpones cross-border games following rise in positive COVID-19 cases:

NHL postpones cross-border games after more players test positive for COVID-19

7 months ago
Duration 2:03
The NHL postponed all cross-border games until Dec. 23 due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, the league will maintain its regular-season schedules, citing a low number of cases with concerning symptoms or serious illness. The NBA also announced it would postpone a handful of games, including the Toronto Raptors' Monday night game against Orlando.

Jets centre Mark Scheifele said the team learned of the postponements moments after their victory.

"You never know right now," he said. "You could see it coming kind of, we weren't really sure, so obviously we know now and waiting to see what all transpires. We'll keep rolling with the punches."

The Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs were also added to the list of teams told to shut down operations, joining the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins.

The league and NHLPA has said that although there has been a rise in positive cases and postponements, the number of cases with concerning symptoms or serious illness have been low and that its medical experts have determined that the need to temporarily shut teams down will be continued on a case-by-case basis. This decision has been based on many of the players and club staff being fully vaccinated.

The NHL and NHLPA are currently in discussion regarding the matter of player participation in the 2022 Beijing Olympics and expect to be in a position to announce a final determination in the coming days.

Scheifele called the uncertainty around the Beijing Olympics "concerning."

"Just kind of one of those things you got to kind of take day by day," he said. "It's not in our hands anymore, you know what I mean? You just got to trust in the plan and just keep on doing what you do . . . and hope for the best."

Raptors game postponed

Another Toronto Raptors game has been postponed due to COVID-19.

The Raptors' game against the visiting Orlando Magic on Monday has been pushed back indefinitely, due to the number of Magic players in the NBA's COVID-19 protocols.

Players who are required to enter the league's health and safety protocols have either tested positive for COVID-10 or have been exposed to someone who has. Once on the list, they must isolate for 10 days or return two negative tests 24 hours apart in order to return to play.

Toronto's game this past Thursday against the visiting Chicago Bulls was also postponed due to a Bulls' outbreak.

The Raptors have all-star forward Pascal Siakam and rookie Dalano Banton in protocols. The two missed Saturday night's 119-100 win over the visiting Golden State Warriors, which saw a Scotiabank Arena crowd of just 7,988 fans after the provincial government slashed arena capacity in half to combat the recent surge in cases.

Orlando's Mo Bamba, Terrence Ross, R.J. Hampton, Moritz Wagner and Canadian Ignas Brazdeikis are among the more than 70 NBA players currently in health and safety protocols as the league deals with outbreaks in numerous teams.

Toronto's next game is Wednesday in Chicago.

Monday's game was one of several that the NBA postponed. Sunday's games between Denver and Brooklyn, Cleveland and Atlanta, and New Orleans and Philadelphia have been postponed, while Tuesday's game between the Wizards and Nets has also been scratched.

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As the Omicron variant spreads and COVID case counts rise across sports leagues, infection control epidemiologist Colin Furness says it’s time to stop allowing full-capacity crowds in venues.

The Raptors are well-versed in COVID-19 challenges. The team suffered a major outbreak that impacted several key players and most of the coaching staff last March, and tumbled down the Eastern Conference standings during that time, missing the playoffs.

Team president Masai Ujiri also announced he had tested positive from his Giants of Africa event on Dec. 5. Forward Precious Achiuwa just returned to the lineup on Saturday after being in COVID protocol for 10 days due to a close contact.

NBA, NBPA to allow replacement players

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed Sunday to a plan where, in response to the current wave of COVID-19 cases, teams will have roster flexibility and not have to worry about salary cap or luxury tax implications.

According to a memo sent to teams late Sunday night and obtained by The Associated Press, the NBA and union will allow teams to sign a replacement player for each player under contract who is confirmed positive for the virus.

Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie will miss Sunday night's game against the Los Angeles Kings after entering the NHL's COVID-19 protocol.

He joins teammates Garnet Hathaway, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom, who are also on the list.

Oshie, who turns 35 on Thursday, missed almost all of November with a lower-body injury. He has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 14 games.

WATCH | Will NHLers go to the Olympics?:

Canadian Olympic men's hockey power rankings: Will NHLers go?

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Rob Pizzo addresses the giant elephant in the room: whether or not the NHL/NHLPA will pull the plug on the Olympics.

Oshie has 621 career points (264 goals, 357 assists) in 870 games with the St. Louis Blues (2008-15) and Capitals.

Also on Sunday, the Capitals recalled forward Joe Snively from Hershey of the American Hockey League.

Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins has reportedly been placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols on Sunday.

The 26-year-old joins teammate Jordan Poole on the list, as both are set to miss Monday's game against the Sacramento Kings.

Rafael Nadal tests positive after trip to Abu Dhabi

Tennis great Rafael Nadal tested positive for the coronavirus after playing in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, the Spaniard said Monday.

Nadal wrote on Twitter that the positive result came from a PCR test he took after arriving in Spain.

Nadal said he is enduring "unpleasant moments" but hopes to improve "little by little." He is in isolation at home and everyone who has been in contact with him was informed of his positive result.

Nadal said that as a consequence of the positive result he will have to be flexible with his playing schedule. He said he will analyze his upcoming options depending on his condition.

Nadal played his first match in more than four months on Friday, losing in straight sets to Andy Murray at the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi. The 20-time Grand Slam champion's chronic foot injury had forced him to sit out the final months of this season.

Nadal had not competed since early August when he lost to Lloyd Harris in Washington. He missed Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the U.S. Open.

Boone Jenner among 3 Blue Jackets in protocol

Columbus Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner, fellow forward Jack Roslovic and defenceman Gabriel Carlsson were placed in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol on Sunday.

The Blue Jackets elected to cancel Sunday's practice "out of an abundance of caution." They plan to hold a morning skate on Monday prior to travelling to Buffalo to face the Sabres later that night.

WATCH | How COVID-19 is impacting the NHL season:

How COVID-19 is affecting the NHL season

7 months ago
Duration 2:02
For the first time this season, the NHL is postponing several games after temporarily shutting down three teams including the Calgary Flames over COVID-19 concerns. Some players are calling on the league to pause the entire season.

Jenner, 28, has a team-leading 11 goals to go along with seven assists in 28 games this season.

Roslovic, a 24-year-old Columbus native, has recorded 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 27 games in 2021-22.

Carlsson, 24, has collected four points (one goal, three assists) in 13 games this season.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young was placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols on Sunday, as was Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel, as coronavirus numbers around the league continued to rise.

Young is the only Hawks player on the protocols list, coach Nate McMillan told reporters in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Vogel won't be on the bench when the Lakers play at Chicago on Sunday. David Fizdale will coach the Lakers in Vogel's place, the team said.

with files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Field Level Media

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