On Friday morning, it was reported that the Dallas Stars abruptly cancelled practice and refused to explain why. They didn’t hold media availability and the NHL was expected to handle communication on this matter.
And it did. The NHL has announced that the Stars had 6 players and 2 staff members test positive for COVID-19. Team facility is closed for a number of days.
This means that the Stars’ schedule is being reviewed, but will not begin season before Jan. 19 - meaning first 3 games (at least) have been postponed. Those games were against the Florida Panthers (1) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (2).
During training camps, teams are not permitted to identify any players who are unavailable due to COVID-19 testing, but once the season begins any player who tests positive will be identified and isolated away from his team.
According to the NHL’s positive test protocol, asymptomatic people who test positive must isolate for 10 days since their first positive test.
Symptomatic people who test positive must isolate for 10 days since symptoms began, and at least 24 hours since the last use of fever-reducing medications. Symptomatic people can also exit isolation with two negative tests after the resolution of any fever.
The league defines close contacts as people who “have been within 6 feet of the Index Individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.” Close contacts who test negative are not subject to quarantine requirements as long as they are symptom-free and continue to test negative, according to the NHL’s protocol.
The season kicks off on January 13th, with the hope that it will get wrapped up prior to July 9th.
These postponed games could already be a new obstacle for the NHL.