NHL News: Winter Classic still on, and Leafs add William Nylander to COVID list

The NHL announced an extension of the Holiday Break yesterday to deal with the continued increase in COVID cases, which now includes Maple Leafs forward William Nylander.

Toronto added Nylander to their growing COVID-19-protocol list Friday, bringing the total number of sidelined players up to 13.

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Toronto Maple Leafs COVID list

In addition to the on-ice personnel, the Leafs also have head coach Sheldon Keefe and two assistant coaches in protocols.

Other Toronto players on the COVID list include captain John Tavares, defenseman Morgan Rielly and goaltender Jack Campbell. Rielly was placed on the list Thursday.

Nylander, 25, has 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in 31 games this season. He has 116 goals and 178 assists in 388 career games over seven seasons, all with the Maple Leafs.

The NHL is currently shut down until Dec. 28 as it deals with the current COVID-19 outbreak. The Maple Leafs are next scheduled to play Wednesday at Pittsburgh.

To make up dozens of games that have been postponed this month, the NHL decided it will not send its players to the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics and the league will make up games during that Feb. 6-22 time window.

Winter Classic still on

NHL Winter Classic
Jan 1, 2020; Dallas, TX, USA; A general view during the second period in the 2020 Winter Classic hockey game between the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL’s annual big outdoor event to kick off every new year is still on according to the Deputy Commissioner.

“Knock on wood … full speed ahead,” Bill Daly said via NHL.com. “We have a full team on the ground there in Minnesota. Everybody is excited. I know the two teams are very excited for it.”

The Minnesota Wild will host the St. Louis Blues in the 2022 Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Target Field in Minneapolis.

The teams initially were slated to compete in the 2021 Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, but that contest was postponed amid the uncertainty of the NHL schedule and when fans would be permitted to attend games with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league officially began the 2020-21 season on Jan. 13, with the only outdoor games being two played at Lake Tahoe in Nevada in February.

The outdoor game will be the second in Minneapolis. The Wild skated to a 6-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 21, 2016. It was the first ever outdoor professional hockey game in the “State of Hockey.”

Daly also noted the recent issues but has a positive outlook regarding the future.

“There are going to continue to be challenges, there are going to continue to be [COVID] positives,” Daly explained. “We’re still going to have game decisions to make for the next little while. We look to the experts to kind of give us their best projections as to how this plays out.”

–Field Level Media contributed to this report