The Philadelphia Flyers-Montreal Canadiens game at the Bell Centre on Thursday night will be closed to fans following a request from Quebec public health officials over COVID-19 concerns.
"Faced with the spiraling rise of COVID-19 cases in the region, late this afternoon the Montreal Canadiens organization received a request from Quebec public health officials to host tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers in a closed setting with no fans in attendance at the Bell Centre," the Canadiens said in a statement. "We have accepted this request in order to help ensure the safety and security of our fans and fellow citizens throughout our community. An update on the status of Saturday's scheduled game against the Boston Bruins will be provided tomorrow."
The Canadiens have one more home game this month, Saturday against the Bruins, and say they have "obtained assurances" that they will "return to a partial capacity scenario" in January.
"We have obtained assurances that beginning with our games in January, we will return to a partial capacity scenario and be able to host fans once more," the statement continued. "More details will follow in the days to come and as the portrait of this ever-evolving pandemic becomes clearer. In the interim we would continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated, get their booster shots when possible, and be responsible with their social and family gatherings throughout the holidays. We hope that with rigor and a collective effort from all of us, we will be able to come together in a near future in 2022."
The news comes just one day after the Ontario government announced a 50 percent capacity limit on venues holding at least 1,000 people amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the province, which affects the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, as well as the Toronto Raptors in the NBA.
The NHL on Wednesday also implemented enhanced COVID-19 protocols until at least Jan. 7. A total of 66 players were in the league's COVID protocol as of Thursday evening, including 18 from the Calgary Flames (h/t Sportsnet). The Flames have already had four of their games postponed.
Puck drop between the Flyers and Canadiens is set for 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia+. You can stream the game online here and on the MyTeams app.