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NHL sets extended holiday break after COVID concerns

National Hockey LeagueThe NHL announced the postponement of five games Thursday, making for an early holiday break as concerns over rising COVID cases forces the league’s hand.

With no games scheduled Wednesday because of COVID-19 related postponements, the NHL will postpone the five games that remained scheduled for Thursday, beginning the collectively bargained holiday break effective with the conclusion of games tonight, bringing the total number of games postponed this season to 49.

Under the revised schedule, Dec. 22, 23, 24 and 25 (Christmas Day) shall be off days for all purposes, including travel.

The decision comes one day after the NHL announced the would be shut down through the holiday break, and that four more games had been postponed — the Columbus Blue Jackets against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday and Thursday, and games Tuesday between the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins, and Seattle Kraken and Arizona Coyotes.

In addition, nine teams are shutting down for the holiday break: Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers.

In addition, U.S./Canada games will be postponed through the holiday break, a decision made due to the concern about cross-border travel and “the fluid nature of federal travel restrictions.”

Players will report back to their teams Sunday for testing, practice and/or travel only. Upon return from the holiday break to team facilities, no individual in the team’s traveling party shall enter the facility (other than for testing purposes) until they have a negative test result. Any practice scheduled for Sunday must begin after 2 p.m. local time.

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