The Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers played in an empty Bell Centre on Thursday night due to a spiraling rise of COVID-19 cases.
The Canadiens announced about two hours before puck drop that Quebec public health officials had requested that no fans attend the game.
The team says in a statement it accepted the request “in order to help ensure the safety and security of our fans and fellow citizens.”
The Canadiens said there will be an update on the status of Saturday night’s game against the Boston Bruins, who currently have seven players in COVID-19 protocol, including captain Patrice Bergeron and star winger Brad Marchand.
Montreal says it has been assured it will be allowed to return to partial capacity at the Bell Centre beginning in January.
The Bruins placed forwards Anton Blidh, Oskar Steen and Trent Frederic and goalie Jeremy Swayman in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol Thursday.
With the number of coronavirus cases and game postponements rising across the league, the addition of Blidh, Frederic and Swayman gave the Bruins six players in the protocol. One team staff member also was placed on the list Thursday.
Bergeron, Marchand, and fellow forward Craig Smith went on the protocol list earlier this week. Bergeron entered Wednesday, one day after Marchand and Smith. All six players could be out until late December.
Coach Bruce Cassidy, who tested positive Nov. 30, just rejoined the team on Monday.
Hard-hit Calgary added two more players and another member of the team’s support staff to its COVID-19 protocol list. Shut down by the worst coronavirus outbreak in the NHL this season, the Flames have had four games postponed through Saturday, and it’s likely more will be scratched.
Sports Leagues adjusting protocols
A surge in COVID-19 cases is disrupting sports teams and leagues around the globe, including in Boston.
Here are some of the adjustments the major professional sports leagues have taken to adapt to the onset of new coronavirus outbreaks.
NFL: If a player is vaccinated, they must be asymptomatic and produce at least two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. If they are unvaccinated, they are out a minimum of 10 days, and if they are asymptomatic they can come back after that period. After Thanksgiving, the NFL implemented heavier protocols and will require personnel working directly with players to get their booster by Dec. 27.
NBA: Beginning Friday, if a player doesn’t have their booster shot — the league says more than 60 percent of players do — they will be subject to daily testing. Right now, fully vaccinated players are exempted from daily testing, and must get tested if they 1. are symptomatic, 2. come into close contact with a positive individual, or 3. are required by local guidelines. A player can return to the court after either isolating for 10 days or testing negative twice, on separate days. They must also be cleared by a team and league physician.
NHL: Nearly all NHL players are vaccinated. They’re tested a minimum of every three days. If they test positive, they must isolate a minimum of 10 days and cannot return until they are asymptomatic.
NFL and NFLPA agree to updated COVID protocols
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to updated COVID protocols. There are now more ways for fully vaccinated players and staff to “test out” of COVID protocols and return from quarantine in less than 10 days. Other measures include masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel.
Two games for Boston Pride postponed
The Premier Hockey Federation announced that the regular-season games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday between the Boston Pride and the host Metropolitan Riveters have been postponed.
The postponement is due to COVID-19 protocols affecting the Boston Pride, and out of an abundance of caution to prioritize the health and safety for members of both organizations and the PHF community.
The weekend series will be rescheduled for a future date to be determined.
Sacramento Kings facing outbreak
ESPN reports that the Sacramento Kings have shut down their facility and their Friday game against the Grizzlies is in question because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Coach Alvin Gentry entered COVID-19 protocol on Wednesday, and according to ESPN, there are concerns more players “could be headed that way.”
Premier League in disarray as fifth game is postponed
The number of postponements in the English Premier League rose to five in a week on Thursday after two more matches were called off.
A growing number of infections at Leicester led to its game against Tottenham being postponed hours before kickoff on Thursday. An ongoing outbreak within Manchester United’s squad also meant its game against Brighton on Saturday won’t go ahead.
Ohio State-Kentucky game canceled
Rising coronavirus concerns hit college basketball on Thursday, with officials calling off two Top 25 men’s games this weekend.
The game between No. 15 Ohio State and No. 21 Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas was canceled because of positive COVID-19 results within the Buckeyes program. Kentucky said the Wildcats were still scheduled to travel to Las Vegas to find a possible replacement game and are working with Classic officials to fill the void.
No. 4 UCLA is scheduled to play North Carolina in the same tournament on Saturday, though the Bruins had to cancel Wednesday’s home game against Alabama State due to COVID-19 protocols.
On the women’s side, No. 19 Kentucky’s nonconference game against Morgan State on Friday night has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Bears’ program. The school said in a release that a makeup date was possible but has not been scheduled. The Wildcats (6-3) will host USC Upstate on Sunday.