COVID-19 remains in the world and it continues its impact in the National Hockey League this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had multiple players and their head coach sit out due to the protocol. The San Jose Sharks had several unavailable as a result too. However, the virus is currently at its most prolific with the Ottawa Senators. Ten players are in the COVID-19 protocol now: Drake Batherson, Connor Brown, Matt Murray, Josh Brown, Victor Mete, Alex Formenton, Austin Watson, Nick Holden, Dylan Gambrell, and Nikita Zaitsev. Combined with injuries, it is a challenge for the Senators to ice a full lineup. As the virus continues to spread among the Senators, a decision was made by the league to postpone Ottawa’s next three games.
This means tomorrow’s game between the New Jersey Devils and the Ottawa Senators will be postponed as well as their next two games, both scheduled in Ottawa, against Nashville and New York, respectively. This was confirmed by Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun; further noting the team is not even flying to Newark today as originally planned.
What this means for the Devils is that they will continue on to the Sunshine State for their next two games. They will visit the Florida Panthers, whom they beat 7-3 last week, on Thursday night. Then they will go to Tampa Bay for an afternoon game on Saturday. The next Devils home game will be on Thanksgiving Eve, November 24, against Minnesota.
As this news is recent, it is not yet known when the Devils will host Ottawa. It is also not yet known what the Devils will do for those who have tickets for tomorrow’s game. I will update this post when that information is available.
Update #1: The Devils confirmed the news earlier this afternoon.
More recently (as in within the last 10 minutes), I received an email from my season ticket representative about the postponement. Any tickets and prepaid event parking for the November 16 game against Ottawa will be valid for the rescheduled game date. If you are a Black and Red Member and you have further questions, please contact your rep. If you got a single game ticket through Ticketmaster, you will get an email directly from Ticketmaster and your tickets for the game will be valid for the rescheduled game. If you got a ticket from a secondary market, then please contact their customer service department with any questions. This has been added to the post from the Devils linked above.
More relevant to any larger impact, Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff noted that this postponement now gives the NHL the ability to opt out of the Olympics entirely. The post Seravalli wrote in September about the Olympics has more details. The summary is that the 82-game regular season is a priority for the NHL and if circumstances require them to opt out of the Olympics and free up weeks in February to meet that 82-game requirement, then they can. The key word is “can.” The NHL has made no decision yet about opting out of the Olympics. I do not know if they will because it is just three games postponed. However, if this number grows in coming months, then the NHL may have to. As much as Olympic hockey is appealing, NHL participation does not directly benefit the NHL. The NHL has to do what is best for their business and that is having a full, 82-game season. I would recommend just keeping this possibility in the back of your mind - especially if there are further postponements in the NHL.