NHL pushes date of return to play back to at least Tuesday due to COVID-19

The NHL announced that it will not resume its regular season until at least Tuesday.

The NHL and NHL Players' Association agreed to begin their holiday break this past Wednesday due to the number of players and teams impacted by COVID-19. The original plan was to begin games again on Monday.

It means the entire slate of 14 games scheduled for Monday has been postponed. That includes the first Battle of Alberta matchup of the season between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, two of the league's fiercest rivals.

The NHL said that "to allow the League an adequate opportunity to analyze League-wide testing results and to assess Clubs' readiness to play, the target date for resumption of game play will be pushed back an additional day."

Teams will return to practice on Sunday, and it is expected that the NHL will update its return-to-play plans by Sunday night. The NHL updated its COVID-19 protocols recently, bringing back daily testing and masks inside team facilities for vaccinated players.

This brings the total of postponed games to 64 on the season. The NHL and NHLPA agreed this week not to allow players to participate in February's Beijing Winter Games, so the Olympic break could be utilized to fulfill an 82-game regular-season schedule.