NHL's Ottawa Senators Forced to Halt Season After COVID Protocols Take Out 10 Players

The Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League (NHL) announced Monday that the team had temporarily halted their season after ten players were forced to sit out due to COVID-19 protocols.

In a press release, the Senators stated that the move was made out of an abundance of caution due to "COVID-19 health-related concerns."

The NHL also released a statement on the matter, saying that the team had coordinated with medical officials and found "evidence of continued spread [of COVID] in recent days." The team's practice ice rink and training facility have also been shut down as a precaution and will remain shuttered until Saturday.

The move canceled the team's next three games, the first of which was scheduled for Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils. The NHL announced that it was working to reschedule the games for later dates.

Ottawa would next be eligible to play next Monday against the Colorado Avalanche, and that game is still scheduled to occur, although the NHL did not explicitly confirm this.

Ottawa Senators
The NHL's Ottawa Senators have suspended their season following ten players being shut down due to COVID-19 protocols. The above image shows a person wearing an Ottawa Senators jersey. Minas Panagiotakis/Getty

Suspension of the season follows a period that saw ten Senators players get pulled from the team's roster per the NHL's COVID-19 protocols. These protocols state that players must quarantine for at least ten days if they have a confirmed positive case, even for players that are fully vaccinated.

Drake Batherson, the latest Senator to enter the protocol, was coming off of a four-point night that saw him notch two goals and two assists in the team's win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He would test positive for COVID early the next day.

Batherson's positive result marked the seventh straight day in which a member of the Senators had tested positive for the virus, according to the Ottawa Sun.

Other significant members of the team have also recently been forced to undergo the protocol due to contact tracing. This includes Ottawa's starting goaltender, two-time Stanley Cup winner Matt Murray.

The protocol has also hit members of the organization who are off the ice, such as assistant coach Jack Capuano.

Even with many of their players vaccinated, the Senators have faced a significant struggle this season in keeping COVID out of their locker room. The virus ended up delaying the team's training camp, and there were also reports that players were forced out of their homes in order to try and keep their families safe.

While a number of teams have dealt with player shortages due to COVID, this is the first time that any NHL club has had to pause its season.

This is likely due to the league's extremely high rate of vaccination among players.

The NHL as a whole has seen a remarkable percentage of its players get vaccinated against the virus. Commissioner Gary Bettman stated at the beginning of the season that the league only had four remaining players that had not received the shot.

Bettman added that "all of our officials are vaccinated. All of the personnel that come into contact with the players are vaccinated."

Newsweek has reached out to the NHL Players' Association for comment.