The NHL shut down four more teams Monday as COVID-19 cases have continued rising around the league.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators had their team activities paused until after Dec. 26. That brings the league total to 11 teams that have shut down in the past week, with these four joining the Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins.
Columbus was shut down after several of its players tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, and three more were added to the list Monday. The NHL cited "concern with the number of positive cases within the last several days as well as concern for continued COVID spread" as the reason for canceling the Blue Jackets games on Monday and Thursday, both against Buffalo.
Before news of the pause, Columbus had canceled its morning skate Monday while awaiting COVID-19 test results. The Blue Jackets had already canceled practice the day before in the wake of three positive tests. The team could resume practice Sunday if cleared by the league, and Columbus is scheduled to face Toronto next Monday. That game could be in jeopardy as well, though, since games involving teams that have to travel across the U.S.-Canada border were postponed this week.
That's where Montreal's shutdown comes in. The Canadiens were meant to be a on a three-game swing facing the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils that ended on Dec. 23, but due to concerns about players testing positive for COVID-19 and being stuck on the wrong side of the border, those games were all postponed Sunday.
More than 15% of the league's players are in virus protocol. The spread of delta and omicron variants across North America has made Olympic participation increasingly unlikely, with a final decision expected this week.
The U.S. and Canadian women's hockey teams were set to play a pre-Olympic game Monday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, but that was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report