Canadians and Flyers play in empty arena | News, Sports, Jobs


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The Associated Press

The Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers played in an empty Bell Center Thursday night due to a skyrocketing increase in COVID-19 cases.

The Canadiens announced about two hours before the puck game that Quebec public health officials had requested that no fans attend the game.

The team says in a statement that it has accepted the request “to help ensure the safety and security of our fans and our fellow citizens.”

The Canadiens said there will be an update on the status of Saturday night’s game against the Boston Bruins, who currently have six players in COVID-19 protocol, including captain Patrice Bergeron and the all-star winger Brad Marchand.

Montreal says it has received assurances that it will be allowed to return to partial capacity at the Bell Center from January.

The Bruins placed forwards Anton Blidh and Trent Frederic and goaltender Jeremy Swayman in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Thursday.

With the number of coronavirus cases and game postponements increasing in the league, the addition of Blidh, Frederic and Swayman gave the Bruins six players in protocol. A member of the team’s staff was also placed on the list on Thursday.

Bergeron, Marchand and their teammate Craig Smith were put on the protocol list earlier this week. Bergeron entered on Wednesday, a day after Marchand and Smith. The six players could be absent until the end of December.

Coach Bruce Cassidy, who tested positive on November 30, just joined the team on Monday.

Calgary has added two more players and another member of the team’s support staff to its list of protocols. Stopped by the worst coronavirus outbreak in the NHL this season, the Flames have postponed four games until Saturday, and it’s likely more will be struck out.

This is a disheartening trend for the league, which plans to allow its players to compete in the Winter Olympics in China in February, unless the disruption over COVID-19 proves too great.

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