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NHL returns to play Tuesday after extended winter break over COVID concerns

However, the NHL announced earlier this week that the Boston-Ottawa game scheduled for December 29 would not not ahead as planned.
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Photo: Hockey / Getty Images

Hockey is back as of Tuesday after an extended NHL winter break has come to an end.

The early pause began on December 22 in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Three games are set to kick off the resumption, with the Montreal Canadiens the only Canadian team to hit the ice after the longer holiday break, which started two days earlier than anticipated.

Several games, which involved all Canadian-based teams, were postponed because of the pause. It came as more players and staff tested positive for the virus.

Play was originally set to resume Monday. However, the NHL announced on Friday that it would be delaying its return by one day to give the league more time to analyze COVID-19 testing results and assess each club’s readiness to resume play.

In an effort to prevent more games from being postponed, the league has allowed each team to have a taxi squad of up to six players. Teams can make emergency call ups from the minors if they’re missing a full lineup because of COVID absences.

The NHL considers the risk of COVID spread, how many players are available, the risk of further transmission within a team, which players a team can access from the minors, as well as a number of other factors when assessing if a game should be postponed.

“The health and safety of all Players and Club Personnel remain the number one priority and games will continue to be postponed to the extent health and safety concerns warrant,” the NHL wrote in a tweet.

While the season is resuming as of Tuesday, some games for later in the week have already been postponed due to COVID-19-related issues. They include the games between Chicago and Winnipeg, and Dallas and Colorado on Wednesday, as well as the Colorado at Dallas match up on Friday.

The NHL earlier announced that the Columbus-Chicago game on December 28 and the Pittsburgh-Toronto and Boston-Ottawa games for the 29th would not go ahead as planned.

So far the league has not provided make-up dates for any of the postponed games.

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