Blue Jackets Join Growing List of Covid Postponements

The current reality of the world has caught up with the Columbus Blue Jackets. It felt like a matter of time before it would.

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The Blue Jackets already had a game postponed due to Covid-19 when their game in Calgary was scrapped. They went home in preparation for the finale of their road trip against the Buffalo Sabres. That game at KeyBank Center was supposed to happen on Monday.

Even despite three Blue Jackets’ players being added to Covid protocol, the game was still set to happen. But then Monday morning happened.

Recapping Monday’s Events

The Blue Jackets announced on Sunday that their scheduled noon practice was canceled and would hold a morning skate on Monday at Nationwide Arena before traveling to Buffalo that day to play at night. Then 10:00 came and an announcement from Blue Jackets PR soon thereafter.

At this point, any momentum of the game happening Monday night was really starting to dwindle. With three players (Boone Jenner, Jack Roslovic and Gabriel Carlsson) already in Covid protocol, the potential of adding multiple players to the list made it seem like shutting down was a good idea. Then just after 11 A.M., our sources confirmed Monday night was off. The news was first reported by Andrew Peters, who is based in Buffalo.

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The NHL and the Blue Jackets each then made the news of the shutdown official. Both games this week involving the Blue Jackets and Sabres are postponed. In addition, the league will decide in the coming days when to re-open the training facility. They are also in the process of reviewing and revising the schedule.

The Blue Jackets also announced that three players: Andrew Peeke, Joonas Korpisalo and Eric Robinson have been added to Covid protocol. That makes six players on the list. As additional testing and results come back, more could be added to the list.

Eric Robinson Columbus Blue Jackets
Eric Robinson is among the latest group of Blue Jackets to land in Covid protocol. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

What’s Next?

The next scheduled Blue Jackets’ game is Dec 27 at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But that game isn’t set in stone due to the recent cancelation of games involving U.S. vs. Canadian teams. There is no indication yet as to if teams will be able to cross the border over the next seven days. The Blue Jackets’ next game against a U.S. opponent is against Seth Jones and the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec 28 in Chicago.

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There are still plenty of unanswered questions at this point. Some things including possible Olympic participation will be answered in the coming days. But let’s try to tackle a few questions.

  • What are the conditions of the Blue Jackets’ players in protocol? Aaron Portzline of the Athletic is reporting that one player has mild symptoms and everyone else is asymptomatic.
  • Will others be added to protocol? That’s very possible. Testing under the recently implemented stricter protocols now require daily testing and in some cases, pregame testing. We could learn of others as the days go on. The Calgary Flames have now gone three straight days without a new positive test so that is great news.

Related: Flames Weekly: Covid Protocol, Possible Restart

  • What about the games? Any idea when they’ll be made up? It’s too early to say. But it’s a strong indicator that NHL players will not be going to Beijing. It’s looking more and more likely that the built-in Olympic break in February will be used to make up postponed games. An official announcement is expected in the coming days according to the NHL and NHLPA.
  • Will the entire league be shutdown? There’s always a chance. But as of yet, the answer is no. The NHL will be handling situations on a case-by-case basis as they come up. With over 16% of the league in protocol, it’s a discussion very much worth having.

This is a fluid and developing situation. At this point, it’s best to treat this situation as day-to-day as more information becomes available.

For now, the Blue Jackets are off for the next week. This week now provides a chance for those affected to get healthy and better. There is nothing more important than that at this point. Take the time to recover and then see what the immediate future holds.