(AP) – The NHL has postponed its return from an already extended vacation break by an additional day by postponing its entire 14-game schedule to Monday for COVID-19 testing reasons.
The league announced on Friday that it now plans to resume play on Tuesday in a decision that brings the postponed game tally to 64 this season.
Teams are still scheduled to resume training on Sunday, but will not be allowed to take the ice until traveling players, coaches and officials are cleared following a series of COVID-19 tests. The decision to delay resumption of play will provide what the NHL has called “an adequate opportunity to analyze league-wide test results and assess the readiness of clubs to play.”
The NHL has said it will provide further updates on its return-to-play plans on Sunday.
The move comes after the NHL opened its annual vacation on Wednesday, two days earlier than expected, due to a significant increase in the number of players entering the league’s COVID-19 protocols, and with the suspension of 10 teams.
The sudden wave of postponed games also led the NHL to exercise its right to withdraw from its participation in the Winter Olympics in February. Instead, the league will use its previously scheduled Olympic break, which runs from Feb.6-22, to make up for postponed games to complete an 82-game season.
Toronto forward William Nylander entered NHL COVID-19 protocols on Friday, giving the Maple Leafs 13 players on the roster. Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, defenseman Morgan Rielly and goaltender Jack Campbell are also in protocols with coach Sheldon Keefe, two assistants and four other members of the organization.
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