The Detroit Red Wings come out of the Christmas break with the NHL still sorting through the mess created by the pandemic.
Teams can return to practice — and COVID-19 testing — at 2 p.m. local time Sunday. The Wings have been shut down since Dec. 19, when a rising number of team personnel testing positive made fielding a competitive lineup unsustainable.
The league-wide holiday break began Dec. 22, two days ahead of schedule. At that time, 50 games had been postponed. Monday’s games — including the Wings playing at the New York Rangers — also have been postponed, bringing the total games needing rescheduling to 64.
In addition to Monday’s game, the Wings had two other games postponed: At home Dec. 20 against the Colorado Avalanche, and Dec. 23 at the Minnesota Wild. Their next scheduled game is Wednesday at the New York Islanders — but that could change. The NHL is expected to provide an update on its return-to-play plans by the end of Sunday.
The Wings’ last game was Dec. 18, when they beat the New Jersey Devils, 5-2, at home. It was played with a lineup that was patched with both coaches and players from the minors to offset the rising number of Wings personnel in quarantine.
Since Dec. 15, players Robby Fabbri, Michael Rasmussen, Alex Nedeljkovic, Givani Smith, Carter Rowney, Filip Zadina, Sam Gagner, Pius Suter, Joe Veleno, Adam Erne and Jordan Oesterle, coaches Jeff Blashill and Alex Tanguay, and an unidentified member of the support staff have entered pandemic protocol.
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Teams did not have to test personnel during the break, so the league needs time to analyze the results that will be flooding in Sunday afternoon and then figure out how to proceed. The league bought itself a degree of flexibility Dec. 22 when it announced NHL players will not participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, which opens up the two weeks in February set aside for that tournament to help ensure all postponed games will be played.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.