NHL postpones 3 Senators games due to COVID-19 outbreak
Team's training facilities closed as 10 players, coach Jack Capuano remain in protocol
The NHL postponed three Ottawa Senators games on Monday amid a COVID-19 outbreak on the team, the first time any of North America's major professional sports leagues have been hit by rescheduling this fall because of the coronavirus.
Games scheduled for Tuesday at New Jersey, at home Thursday against Nashville and at home Saturday against the New York Rangers were postponed. Ten Senators players along with associate coach Jack Capuano are currently in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol, and though the team played shorthanded Sunday, the depth of Ottawa's outbreak led to the league's decision.
Neither the NFL nor the NBA has had to postpone a game so far this fall. Major League Baseball had nine virus-related postponements among 2,430 scheduled games, down from 45 in last year's shortened 900-game schedule.
The NHL postponed 51 games for virus reasons during its last regular season.
While Ottawa played shorthanded Sunday in a 4-0 loss to Calgary, the depth of the outbreak led to the decision to postpone games, which the league said was made in light of evidence of continued spread in recent days. The Senators are shut down through at least Saturday, with their training facilities closed to players until then as a precaution.
"The Senators organization has, 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, provincial and national agencies," the league said in a statement.
"As an appropriate precaution, the team's training facilities have been closed, effective immediately, and will remain closed for players until further notice."
The league and Players' Association have until Jan. 10 to withdraw from the 2022 Winter Olympics if pandemic circumstances force the cancellation of so many games that a nearly three-week break in February is not feasible. The NHL was still looking at when to reschedule the Senators' games against the Devils, Predators and Rangers.
Batherson put in protocol on Sunday
"The health and safety of the local community, the venue's patrons and the organization's staff and players is Senators Sports & Entertainment's highest priority," the team said.
Forward Drake Batherson was the most recent Senators player to be put in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol when he was added to the list on Sunday.
Batherson joined Austin Watson, Nick Holden, Josh Brown, Connor Brown, Dylan Gambrell, Matt Murray, Victor Mete, Alex Formenton and Nikita Zaitsev.
The Senators also said tickets purchased for Thursday and Saturday will be honoured when the games are rescheduled.
It's the second straight season a Canadian team has dealt with significant COVID-19 issues. A massive outbreak derailed the Vancouver Canucks' 2020-21 campaign.
Canucks forward Adam Gaudette was pulled from practice on March 30 after testing positive for COVID-19, the first of 22 Vancouver players and four staff members who were stricken by the virus, including head coach Travis Green.
Vancouver ultimately had nine games postponed over 19 days. When they returned to play, they lost seven of their final 10 games of the season, finishing last in the all-Canadian North Division.
With files from CBC Sports & The Canadian Press