It’s official: NHL players are not going to be able to go to the Beijing 2022 Olympics due to concerns over COVID-19 and the impact the virus has already had on the NHL’s schedule. As a result of outbreaks hitting the league in the past two weeks, as well as an agreement to enter the Christmas break early in an effort to stem the spread of the virus, more than 50 games have already been postponed.
The Dallas Stars are one of the least impacted in the NHL this season after enduring a massive outbreak and playing one of the most compressed schedules in the league last season as a result. Their home game versus the Winnipeg Jets and a road game against the Chicago Blackhawks are the only two impacted games that will need to be rescheduled.
As a result of the players not going to the Olympics, the NHL will look to fill in February’s Olympic break and use that time to reschedule some of these COVID-impacted games while giving teams a one-week bye, not unlike in (normal) years past.
That could work in Dallas’ favor, too. Because of the time to fill in the calendar, there are a couple of games that the league could potentially reschedule from an insanely packed April schedule to alleviate some of the pressure on the team down the stretch and help fill in a reasonable schedule for the NHL in February.
Based on existing events at the AAC, as well as events at the United Center for the road game that needs rescheduling, here’s a theoretical schedule for the Stars in February based on how I would redistribute games were I in charge (I am very much not in charge):
Tuesday, February 1: vs Calgary Flames (regularly scheduled)
Thursday, February 3: @ Chicago Blackhawks (rescheduled postponed game 12/23)
Friday, February 4 to Monday, February 7: NHL All-Star Break (Las Vegas)
Wednesday, February 9: @ Chicago Blackhawks (rescheduled game 4/10)
Friday, February 11: vs Vegas Golden Knights (rescheduled game 4/26)
Sunday, February 13: vs Minnesota Wild (rescheduled game 4/14)
Monday, February 14 to Sunday, February 20: Bye Week
Monday, February 21: vs Winnipeg Jets (rescheduled postponed game 12/22)
Wednesday, February 23: vs Winnipeg Jets (regularly scheduled)
Thursday, February 24: @ Nashville Predators (regularly scheduled)
Sunday, February 27: vs Buffalo Sabres (regularly scheduled)
A couple of thoughts on this:
- Rescheduling Winnipeg for a home-and-home with the Stars reduces travel for the Canadian team across the border.
- Moving the road game from April in Chicago eliminates one of the back-to-back with travel the last month of the season.
- Moving the home game vs Vegas eliminates a back-to-back and a three-in-four for the Stars the last week of the season.
It will take a lot of time for the league to figure out the scheduling and it’s a lot of multi-tenant and heavy concert venues for them to contend with to rebuild a new schedule. It’s not something we’ll have an answer to overnight (and I definitely don’t envy the schedule makers and arena operators trying to figure this out, either.)
Hopefully, it helps that Dallas doesn’t have a lot of postponed games to contend with and they can only get a better schedule out of it for the rest of the season as a result.