Toronto Maple Leafs: 50% Capacity Just Doesn’t Cut It

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 13: David Kampf #64 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against Christian Dvorak #28 of the Montreal Canadiens during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on October 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens 2-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 13: David Kampf #64 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against Christian Dvorak #28 of the Montreal Canadiens during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on October 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens 2-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Tonight the Toronto Maple Leafs were supposed to take on the Calgary Flames as part of their four game western road trip that will also see them play the Seattle Kraken for the first time ever.

Unfortunately, the Toronto Maple Leafs vs Flames game  is postponed along with all of the next several Flames games.

So far, the Flames have 17 people in Covid Protocol, and have postpone four games, with more likely to follow. The NHL appears to be trying everything but a full shutdown, but as Omicron rips through North American, that seems less and likely to be possible. (I think more people were added to Calgary’s list while I was writing this).

The Olympics – already in doubt – now seem like a pipe dream.

Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs announced they would cut attendance to 50% , which, frankly, is still 100% too many people.

The NHL should not have anybody in any arena and it’s unconscionable that they will.  All it does is make it harder for the cities in which games are held to get things under control.

The NHL Situation Is Out of Control

In total, there are currently 56 NHL Players in Covid Protocol, not including team staff.  If each team has 23 players, then there are only 736 players in the NHL, and that means that about 8% of the NHL is currently unable to play.

This not only seems insane, but I don’t understand the aversion to shutting down for a while – it’s only a game, and the risks seem way too high.  I shouldn’t have to say this, but NHL players are people who have families. They aren’t just some guys in a video game who do whatever we want for entertainment.

If 7.5% of the NHL is unable to play, what are things going to look like once the variant takes hold completely?

Why not pause for three weeks over Christmas (which is a convenient time to do it since there was already a small break built in) and focus on getting as many players boostered as possible, then resume with Taxi Squads and perhaps a series of mini bubbles (if necessary) where you could play out the rest of the schedule?

Since the NHL already had the Olympic break built into their schedule, if they take action before it’s too far out of control, they could probably use that break to avoid extending the season, or at the very least, keep the number of outright cancelations much lower.

Tonight Boston and the Islanders are supposed to play, with four players on Boston and one on New York already in protocol.  Do people think the rest of the teams are magically OK? How is it even possible that no one on these two teams will test positive tomorrow?  It likely isn’t.

The Hurricanes plan to play tonight with ten forwards. 

Their last game was postponed, and they currently have guys stuck in two different cities quarantining because they were on the road when it happened.  So why play tonight’s game? What’s the upside?

Today is December 16th, so any player playing a road game in a different country than they live tonight could potentially spend Christmas alone in a hotel room.  That doesn’t seem right.

What is the upside of powering through? It is not currently safe to play in or attend an NHL game and the league should take a pause until things are better. We all wish this wasn’t the case, but acting aspirationally will only lead to pain.  Acting like the pandemic is over because we were sick of it turns out to have been a poor strategy.

With the knowledge I have, it seems like a fullscale NHL shutdown is needed.  Maybe the league has information that I don’t and knows better.  I hope this is the case, and that they aren’t just being greedy. At the very least, if the players and league choose to power through they should not be allowed to have fans in the buildings making things worse for everyone else by hosting mass infection parties.

Next. Matthews Creeping into Scoring Lead. dark

The Leafs, for now, are scheduled to play Vancouver Saturday.