The Montreal Canadiens announced on Thursday morning that forward Brendan Gallagher and defenseman Sami Niku have been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
According to an official statement by the team, both players are currently being monitored by team doctors and will follow all of the necessary guidelines required of them by the league.
This development marks the continuation of a troubling trend for the NHL this season that has seen players and staff from five different teams enter league protocols just this week, with St. Louis’ Tyler Bozak, Edmonton’s Cody Ceci, Carolina’s Tony DeAngelo, Ethan Bear, and Brett Pesce, Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi, and Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy having all been removed from their teams for COVID-related reasons – which is excluding the players from the Islanders who remain in protocols after the virus swept through their locker room last week, too.
Thankfully, Gallagher and Niku are reportedly vaccinated, meaning that their path back to full status is far easier than that of Bertuzzi, the NHL’s lone unvaccinated player. But this is still a cause for concern.
With players seemingly entering protocols on a daily basis at this point, the NHL may be forced to condense their schedule even further by postponing games, which, potentially, could seriously dissuade them from sending their players to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
The NHL has until Jan. 10 to decide whether or not they will opt out of Olympic participation. And with cases only rising, the decision becomes more difficult by the day.