The Canadiens are scheduled to hit the ice for the first time in eight days Monday morning with a practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.
The Canadiens haven’t skated since a practice on Dec. 19, a day after a scheduled game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns. The NHL announced after the practice on Dec. 19 that three more Canadiens games scheduled for last week — against the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils — had been postponed. The Canadiens also announced that all team activities would be suspended through Sunday and the NHL later postponed all games through Monday.
The Canadiens announced Sunday that due to enhanced sanitary measures and the spike in COVID-19 cases, media availabilities with players and coaches will all be done virtually on Zoom until further notice.
The Canadiens are scheduled to play their next game Tuesday in Tampa against the Lightning (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). On Sunday, the Lightning announced that Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Mikhail Sergachev, goaltenders Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brian Elliott, and assistant coach Rob Zettler have been placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. They join head coach Jon Cooper, who entered protocol on Dec. 21.
The Canadiens placed Artturi Lehkonen on the protocol list on Dec. 17, followed by Laurent Dauphin on Dec. 18 and Mike Hoffman on Dec. 19.
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Sunday that Jake Muzzin has been added to the protocol list. He becomes the 14th member of the Leafs roster to be added to the list. Head coach Sheldon Keefe and goalie coach Steve Briere are also on the list. The Maple Leafs are scheduled to play their next game Wednesday in Toronto against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The NHL has postponed 64 games this season because of COVID-19 and also decided that its players will not participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The Olympic break, which had been scheduled from Feb. 6-22, will now be used to make up some of the postponed games.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Sunday that the NHL and NHLPA have formalized some CBA exemptions designed to give teams COVID roster relief. They include teams being allowed to add an extra goalie when two regulars aren’t available; an emergency salary-cap exemption when teams aren’t able to dress two goalies, six defencemen and 12 forwards for a game (the cap hit of any player called up cannot exceed US$1 million) and the ability to have taxi squads.