COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Blue Jackets' games against the Buffalo Sabres this week has been postponed.
The Blue Jackets said all club activities have been paused at least through the completion of the NHL’s holiday break on December 26.
They could resume practice Sunday if cleared by the league and they are scheduled to face Toronto next Monday, though games involving teams on opposite sides of the U.S.-Canada border could continued to be postponed into next week.
The NHL is in the process of reviewing and revising the regular season schedule. A total of 43 NHL games have been postponed this season because of coronavirus-related reasons.
Seven other NHL teams have been shut down as positive test results have risen across the league. The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs were added to that list Sunday, joining the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins.
The league and NHL Players’ Association said Sunday the plan was to avoid a full league shutdown, pausing team activities on a case-by-case basis and postponing all cross-border games through Thursday. The Christmas break begins Friday and runs through Sunday, with games scheduled to resume next Monday.
“We will continue to play the 2021-22 regular season schedule,” the NHL and NHLPA said Sunday in a joint statement. “Although there has been a recent increase in positive COVID test results among players, coaches and hockey staff, there have been a low number of positive cases that have resulted in concerning symptoms or serious illness.”
Roughly 10% of the league’s players are in virus protocol. The spread of delta and omicron variants across North America has made Olympic participation unlikely.
Much about the omicron coronavirus variant remains unknown, including whether it causes more or less severe illness. Scientists say omicron spreads even easier than other coronavirus strains, including delta, and it is expected to become dominant in the U.S. by early next year. Early studies suggest the vaccinated will need a booster shot for the best chance at preventing an omicron infection but even without the extra dose, vaccination still should offer strong protection against severe illness and death.