Rick Zamperin: More coronavirus cases force NHL schedule changes

Nashville Predators' Matt Duchene (95) moves the puck away from Carolina Hurricanes' Sebastian Aho (20) during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game, in Raleigh, N.C, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker

I guess you can say that it was only a matter of time before COVID-19 impacted the National Hockey League season again.

The NHL announced the postponement of the first game since the new season began on Jan. 13, when it called off Tuesday night’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators in the Music City.

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“The decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts,” the league said.

Carolina placed four players on its COVID-19 list Tuesday after Teuvo Teravainen, Warren Foegele, Jaccob Slavin and Jordan Martinoook tested positive, joining captain Jordan Staal who was already on the list.

Read more: Hextall on Hockey: Is it already time for Winnipeg Jets to push the panic button?

The Predators and Hurricanes will meet in Raleigh, North Carolina, in early March and mid-April but they are not scheduled to play again in Nashville until the last two games of the regular season.

This isn’t the first time the league has had to juggle its schedule because of COVID-related concerns.

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Just before the 2020-21 season began, the NHL announced it was delaying the start of the Dallas Stars’ season after 17 players — almost the entire team — tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

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Dallas won’t play its first game until this Friday, which is nine days after the league celebrated its opening night, after having their first four games rescheduled for later in the season.

Strangely enough, the Stars’ opening contest will come against Nashville.

Read more: Canadian women’s hockey team reunites after 10-month pandemic separation

Barely a week into the season, it is clear that the impenetrable wall that was created in the NHL’s bubble in Toronto and Edmonton last summer is no longer a shield the league can utilize.

It’s safe to say this year’s schedule was probably written in pencil.

Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.