Dallas Stars coach Rick Bowness looks on during a training camp practice session on Wednesday. (LM Otero / Associated Press)
The NHL season, which is scheduled to open on Wednesday, will be readjusted in response to six players on the Dallas Stars and two team staff members having tested positive for COVID-19, the league announced Friday.
The Stars’ opener has been pushed back, “with the expectation that the team will not open its 2020-21 season earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 19,” the league said in a statement. The Stars’ training facilities have been closed and will remain closed while daily testing and contact tracing is conducted.
The unnamed players and staff members, “are self-isolating and following [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and League protocols,” the statement said. “The Stars organization has, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of its players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, local, state and national agencies.”
The NHL paused the 2019-20 season on March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic and resumed play in August in two bubbles established in Toronto and Edmonton without fans present. For 2020-21, teams are scheduled to play in their respective home arenas but players have been advised to limit their contact with those outside their immediate family and to avoid visiting public places. To minimize travel and limit potential exposure to the virus, the NHL temporarily realigned its 31 teams into four divisions and designed a schedule comprised exclusively of intradivision play. The Stars are to play in the Central Division.
The seven NHL teams based in Canada were grouped together so they can compete without having to face current restrictions that rule out nonessential travel between the United States and Canada. The San Jose Sharks have been conducting their training camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., because health regulations in Santa Clara prohibit contact sports from taking place there. It’s unclear whether they will be allowed to play home games in San Jose.
The NBA, which opened its 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, encountered a COVID-related scheduling problem on the second day of its season and had to reschedule a game involving the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder because the Rockets didn’t have enough players available to play.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.