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NHL to pause 2021-22 season from Dec. 22-26

The NHL is temporarily pausing its season due to a rising number of positive COVID-19 cases around the league.

The NHL made its COVID-related pause official: the holiday break will now run from Dec. 22 (Wednesday) through Dec. 26 (Sunday).

This extended pause means that Dec. 22 - 25 will be off days for all purposes, including travel. On Sunday, Dec. 26, players will return to facilities for testing -- though that would stop if there’s a positive test.

The NHL has not yet postponed the two remaining Tuesday (Dec. 21) games.

Ideally, the NHL plans to resume the 2021-22 regular season schedule on Monday, Dec. 27.

Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman originally broke the news of the NHL COVID pause.

Seravalli notes that the current plan would be for Tuesday’s remaining games (Capitals at Flyers; Lightning at Golden Knights) to take place as planned on Dec. 21.

Naturally, that can change, too. That’s just the way things have been happening.

COVID prompts NHL to pause season from Dec. 22-26

Wednesday’s NHL games had already been postponed. Before this announcement, there were five Thursday NHL games that hadn’t been postponed, but this reported pause would obviously change that.

Friedman notes that players would return to team facilities on Sunday (Dec. 26), a day earlier than originally planned, in order to get tested.

So, to review:

  • The Stars are hosting the Wild in Monday’s lone NHL game.
  • At the moment, the two Tuesday, Dec. 21 NHL games (Capitals - Flyers; Lightning - Golden Knights) will reportedly go on as planned. Unless testing prompts further postponements.
  • The Wednesday, Dec. 22 NHL games were already postponed via recent decisions.
  • This reported NHL pause would postponed five Thursday games.
  • Heading into the 2021-22 NHL season, the traditional holiday break would’ve gone from Dec. 24 - 26 (Friday through Sunday). That mostly remains the same, aside from (as Friedman noted) players reportedly returning to facilities a day early to get tested.
  • Ideally, the NHL season would resume on Monday, Dec. 27.

We’ll see if more changes happen, including the games on Tuesday, Dec. 21. Of course, the NHL and NHLPA may also make an announcement about the 2022 Winter Olympics in the near future.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.