The Arizona Coyotes have only played ten games in the 2020-21 season, and we are season drastic schedule changes. COVID-19 has affected several American teams, including the Coyotes’ next two opponents, and has led to rescheduled games.
Arizona, thankfully, has not had any positive COVID-19 case. Lawson Crouse was unavailable before the start of the season but did not miss any games due to the virus.
But despite not having any cases themselves, COVID has wreaked havoc on the Coyotes’ schedule.
After last night’s game, the Desert Dogs were supposed to head to Minnesota to play two games, head to Colorado for another two games, and then back home to Arizona, where they would host the Blues.
The Wild games were rescheduled on Wednesday after six players tested positive for COVID-19. For a while, the plan appeared to be that the Coyotes would head back to Arizona and then go to Colorado.
But during last night’s game against the Blues, the NHL announced that Arizona’s two games against Colorado would also be postponed. Colorado had just lost two players to the COVID list.
Quickly after the cancelation of Colorado’s games, we saw changes to the Coyotes’ schedule. Instead of heading back home, the Coyotes will instead stay in St. Louis and play there this Saturday and next Monday. These games were scheduled for March 29th and 31st.
This change will see the Coyotes play the St. Louis Blues six times in a row, four straight on the road and then two at home unless there are other changes to the schedule.
So far, five teams have seen their schedules affected by COVID. The Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, and Vegas Golden Knights have all seen their games rescheduled.
It is also important to note that this does not appear to be as big of an issue with the Canadian teams. No Canadian teams have lost games, and the only player on the COVID protocol list is Pierre-Luc Dubois. The Jets acquired Dubois from the Columbus Blue Jackets and is needing to quarantine before entering the country.
Yesterday also saw the NHL announce new rules to combat the rise in COVID cases. Included in the changes is removing the glass from behind the benches to increase airflow, changes to when players can arrive, and increases in allotted locker room space for better social distancing.
Last year, the NHL found a way to have the Stanley Cup playoffs with no positive cases. But there were far fewer cases at that time, and the NHL operated with much higher security in the two bubbles.
The NHL and players need to decide where they want to go from here because whatever they are currently doing isn’t working.