The NHL is getting a jump-start on the winter break in the hopes that an extended layoff will quell its COVID-19 problem.
According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, the league is expected to announce a pause on all team operations starting on Wednesday, one day earlier than the planned holiday break, with players then returning to their respective facilities on Dec. 26 to resume testing.
Doing so will consequently postpone an additional five games that were slated to be played Thursday, bringing the total number of rescheduled games this season to a whopping 47.
This was an inevitable path for the NHL to take as the virus swept throughout the league over the past seven days. Beginning the winter break early allows players to either exit quarantine in enough time to resume play once it's over, or prevent additional players from contracting the virus during the current wave of cases.
What this announcement does as well is effectively confirm that the NHL will be opting out of Olympic participation in February. With an already condensed schedule and nearly 50 games in need of new dates, the league simply cannot pause its season for three weeks to send its best players off to another country and possibly risk further exposure.
Difficult circumstances require difficult decisions. And the NHL just made its hardest yet.