VANCOUVER — The Toronto Maple Leafs are heading home after the remaining two games on their road trip were postponed amid a rise in COVID-19 cases across the NHL.
On Friday, Maple Leafs forwards John Tavares, Alexander Kerfoot, Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds all entered COVID-19 protocol.
'Two of the four players are entirely asymptomatic," Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said in a Zoom conference with reporters on Saturday. "One of the four had some mild symptoms in the beginning and those have dissipated and one has some fever, chills and body aches."
The Vancouver Canucks, who the Leafs were scheduled to play against on Saturday, added defenseman Tyler Myers to the COVID-19 list. Myers was the sixth player to be added to list.
The Maple Leafs were also scheduled to wrap up their four-game road trip out west against the Seattle Kraken on Sunday. That game was also postponed.
The team underwent another round of rapid antigen and PCR tests early Saturday morning in preparation of their game against the Canucks. The rapid tests came back negative, but they are still awaiting the results of the PCR tests. Those are expected to be returned before 3 p.m. PT, one hour before their game was originally scheduled to take place.
UPDATE: The Maple Leafs announced that defensemen TJ Brodie, Travis Dermott, goaltender Jack Campbell, head coach Sheldon Keefe and assistant coach Spencer Carbery have all been placed on COVID-19 protocol. That brings the number of players added to the list to seven players and two members of the coaching staff.
Anyone who returned a negative test would be able to fly home on the team's charter, while other arrangements are currently being figured out for players that are currently on or end up being placed on COVID-19 protocol.
"We'll try to do everything we can to get family during the holidays," Dubas said."
The Leafs were also scheduled to take on the Calgary Flames this past Thursday but that game was postponed following the Flames' outbreak.
The NHL has played games while players have been on COVID-19 protocol, but the omicron variant that has spread across the league has forced widespread cancellation of games in the NHL.
The Leafs have been fortunate to avoid any confirmed positive tests even going back to the days of the 2020 NHL Playoffs bubble.
Forward William Nylander entered protocol last season due to a possible exposure outside of the team but never tested positive.
The Maple Leafs' farm team, the Toronto Marlies, has been particularly hit hard as Dubas confirmed there are now 10 players confirmed positive for COVID-19. All players and staff are self-isolating for 10 days under Toronto Public Health guidelines.
The decision to postpone the upcoming games was made by the NHL’s, the NHLPA’s and the Clubs’ medical groups.
“The League is in the process of reviewing and revising its regular-season schedule,” the NHL said in a statement.
News of Leafs/Canucks postponement was first reported by John Shannon. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman first reported that the Leafs game against the Kraken was also postponed.
The Leafs’ next game on the schedule is slated for Dec. 23 when they host the St. Louis Blues. That is of course if the team or league doesn't shut down operations.
"When I spoke to [NHL] deputy commissioner Bill Daly, he said that our next two games were postponed but we were not being shut down, per se, " Dubas said acknowledging that more test results need to come in. "That will be very instructive of where we're at."
This is a fluid situation for the Maple Leafs. Given the additional players added to the COVID-19 list, their game against the Blues at home is very much in doubt.