NHL halts all cross-border travel for games because of COVID-19

The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets warm up before a game in a crowd-filled arena
The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets warm up before a game on Nov. 18 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Canada.
(Codie McLachlan / Getty Images)

The NHL season will continue despite the recent increase in positive tests for the coronavirus, the NHL and NHL Players’ Assn. said Sunday, but games involving travel between teams based in the United States and Canada will be postponed starting Monday and extending through Thursday, the last day before the league’s scheduled holiday break.

The league and the players’ union also said they are “actively discussing” players’ scheduled participation in the Beijing Winter Olympics hockey tournament and they expect to make a determination “in the coming days.” It appears increasingly unlikely that players will travel to China for the Games.

The NHL formulated two schedules, one with a break to allow players to represent their homelands at the Olympics and another that did not halt play in the event players don’t go to China. That second schedule could be adjusted to accommodate games that have been postponed.


The surge of the Omicron variant has pushed the world back into a state of uncertainty and is compromising the quality of competition in every sport.

Dec. 18, 2021

The latest NHL postponements include the Kings’ scheduled game against Edmonton on Wednesday at Staples Center and the Ducks’ games at Edmonton on Monday and at Vancouver on Thursday. Sunday’s announcement brought the number of postponements to 39, with additional postponements possible after the holiday break.

The league also announced that Detroit Red Wings games would be postponed at least through Dec. 26.

The league and union said decisions to shut down teams will continue to be made on a case-by-case basis, noting that while the number of positive test results has risen, a low number of those cases have resulted in “concerning symptoms or serious illness.”

In a joint statement they added, “With the number one priority of maintaining the health and safety of our NHL community, amid changing and unpredictable conditions, we are determined to remain flexible and adaptable both in terms of scheduling and in adjusting Protocols as necessary.”

The NHL has reintroduced stricter COVID-19 protocols that include daily testing and other steps in a bid to limit a growing outbreak.

Dec. 18, 2021