NHL reportedly making changes to in-arena COVID protocols

An ugly Wednesday on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list is leading to several changes in rinks around the league.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, four changes are coming to every arena beginning with Thursday’s slate of games. The first is the glass behind team benches will be removed to improve air flow.

Teams have also been asked to install portable air cleaners behind the benches to up the quality of air and help reduce airborne transmissions. As Friedman points out, HEPA filters would be used which, according to Consumer Reports “results in reductions of 50 per cent or higher in particulate matter.”

Players and staff cannot arrive at the arena more than an hour and 45 minutes before the start of their game unless injury treatment is required. Meetings, both on gamedays and on off days, will be held virtually.

Finally, increased space in dressing rooms will be required with at least six feet between player stalls.

More rapid testing

A PCR test is administered to players every morning, but longer waits for results have led to calls for rapid tests to be given as well. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan that the league is “committed to layering in more rapid testing as we go forward.”

As of Thursday, 22 NHL games have been postponed since the start of the season on Jan. 13. There have been nearly 90 players who have been placed on the league’s COVID-19-protocol-related absences list in the last four weeks.

The Wild were the latest team to have games postponed after five players were added on Wednesday. The Devils currently have 17 players listed and are not scheduled to resume play until Feb. 9.

More NHL news

The Buzzer: Pastrnak powers Bruins past Flyers; Lightning cruise vs. Red… NWHL suspends Lake Placid season due to COVID-19 concerns Doug Armstrong named GM of 2022 Canadian Olympic team


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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