As the NHL determines its path forward, the Calgary Flames are able to return to the ice on Sunday afternoon.
With the last mass COVID positives coming in mid-December, a best-case scenario is all but a couple of Flames players and coaches are available to skate. In whatever formalized fashion they choose. Seven Calgary Flames and three coaches went into protocol on Dec. 15, including head coach Darryl Sutter. Alberta has a 10-day quarantine period for asymptomatic people.
Dan Vladar and Mikael Backlund, who both popped up later in the process, are still on the outside looking in. Of course, that’s assuming everyone continues to test negative and were asymptomatic. Updates are expected after the late-afternoon practice.
Meanwhile, the NHL is reportedly considering a number of new options to navigate the Omicron variant outbreaks. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the league is talking about taxi squads and emergency call-up parameters, among other things.
NHL/NHLPA working on COVID roster protection, including: Optional use of taxi-squad through All-Star; emergency call-ups as long as player is making no more than $1M; and freedom to add a goalie if a club has less than 2 healthy due to the virus.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 26, 2021
NHL working on massive rescheduling challenge
The NHL previously postponed all 14 games on Monday, including the Battle of Alberta scheduled at the Saddledome, but so far is expected to resume play Tuesday. That could change depending on what the teams are experiencing.
The NHL now has postponed 64 games this season, which also led to the decision to not participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The NHL planned to pause the season from Feb. 6-22, but that block now will be used to reschedule some of the postponed games.
In a release last week, the NHL said they were working with teams to fill the open building dates.
“We’ve sent out communication with clubs and we’re trying to confirm their open building dates,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said last week. “We obviously will work very close with the Players’ Association.
“I do think we’ll have to build in some off time during that three-week period for the players as they had anticipated previously.
“There are a lot of boxes to check there. But I expect that we’ll be able to portion some portion of that break period to various clubs to get their players rested. I hope to make full utilization of the period so that we can make up the games that we’ve missed.”