It flew by. The Christmas break is over for everyone except the battle of Yinzers, who keep their lights up until March. The Pittsburgh Penguins return to practice on Monday with most of their players on the ice, though one tested positive on Sunday. We looked at the top players who could be on the NHL trade block over the next two months. The NHL changed roster rules to adapt to the sweeping COVID, but the new world is not without some player criticism.
The NHL made a few more postponements late last night, including the Toronto Maple Leafs hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The first wave of new COVID protocols hit on Sunday. The Penguins, fortunately, or unfortunately, have only one player in it: Evan Rodrigues.
We’re about to have it out over COVID, I think. Most of us are sick of it, and in the words of humor columnist Dave Barry via the Washington Post, “Many Americans who are vaccinated behave as though they have not. Many Americans have not been vaccinated but behave as though they have. Many of those who have hate Donald Trump, who considers the vaccines to be one of his greatest achievements. Many who refuse to get vaccinated love Donald Trump. What do these facts tell us? They tell us that we, as a nation, are insane. But we already knew that.”
The U.S. studies of Omicron are beginning to be published. South African studies may have jumped the gun. The Omicron strand is less virulent than Delta, yes, but only 25% less, and it is 200% more virulent than the original, and Omicron is by far the most transmissible. Hospitalizations are already spiking, especially in geographic pockets with lower vaccination rates. This isn’t just a head cold, kids. I’d like to not lose any more subscribers because of death. Make your decisions with care.
The NHL and NHLPA agreed in an effort to limit the postponements. On Sunday, the league reinstituted (temporarily) the Taxi Squad. Teams have new salary cap rules, too. Get the full story on Taxi Squads and COVID exemptions.
I want to thank our friends at PuckPedia.com who sent over the changes hours before any other outlet in the U.S. had them (it appears Elliotte Friedman was just ahead of us. Nice work.)
NHL Trade Chatter, News & National Hockey Now
PHN: Some good players will be available over the next couple of months, possibly including at least one Pittsburgh Penguins player. We took a look at the five best potential NHL trade block players.
The good news for Penguins fans is the Penguins have closed the gap with the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, literally and figuratively. The formula is working well, and maybe a better formula for Penguins success?
Sportsnet: Tyler Myers is the first player to question COVID testing rules.
Neither of the Penguins goalie prospects played in the World Juniors on Sunday. Perhaps today? Seventh-round pick Kirill Tankov did get a secondary assist in Russia’s 6-3 loss to Sweden. You can follow the World Junior Championships here.
NYI: More COVID cases for the fish sticks. The nightmare season continues for the New York Islanders.
Washington: Oskar Magnusson was selected as the game’s best player for Team Sweden on Sunday. The Capitals prospect had a pretty good day…
Philadelphia: Sean Couturier and other Philadelphia Flyers stars landed in the COVID protocol, too.
San Jose: Logan Couture went public with supporting targeted COVID testing.
Calgary: What do they need? Gifts from our beat writer Steve MacFarlane for each of the Calgary Flames players.
And lastly…Rob Simpson didn’t spoil the child in Vancouver. 2021–the worst year in Vancouver Canucks history.