The NHL has postponed two more games for coronavirus-related reasons, making it five so far this season. Upcoming New York Islanders games Sunday at the Rangers and Tuesday at the Philadelphia Flyers were postponed after additional players went into the NHL's COVID-19 protocol on Saturday. The Islanders would have had as many as eight players unavailable, the AP reports. The league said the possibility of additional spread contributed to the Islanders games being called off.
The team has said captain Anders Lee, fellow forwards Ross Johnston and Kieffer Bellows and defensemen Zdeno Chara, Adam Pelech and Andy Greene were in protocol, and winger Josh Bailey only recently resumed skating after being quarantined. General manager Lou Lamoriello said as recently as Wednesday that none of the players who were positive for the virus had tested negative to clear the way to return. The shorthanded Islanders lost 1-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins at home Friday night. The NHL postponed three Ottawa Senators games in mid-November because of that team's virus outbreak.
When the NHL agreed to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the league and the NHL Players' Association added the caveat that they could withdraw based on pandemic conditions. It would take a significant number of postponements to trigger the NHL/NHLPA withdrawal for a material disruption to the season that would require the 2½-week Olympic break in February to make up games. The league and players have until Jan. 10 to pull out without financial penalty. (In April, 21 players on the Vancouver Canucks tested positive.)