The NHL is relaxing some of its COVID-19 regulations. The league will no longer test asymptomatic players and staff members for COVID-19 after the All-Star break, according to ESPN and The Athletic. ESPN reported the NHL and NHLPA will meet later in January to "assess the climate and formalize" but have already agreed to the testing change.
The move follows a massive COVID-19 outbreak within the NHL. In December, the league paused play from Dec. 22-27 while 15% of its players were in virus protocols. COVID-19's rapid spread through the NHL forced the postponements of 50 games through Dec. 23.
While the NHL is planning to reduce testing, it isn't eliminating it entirely.
The league will reportedly continue to test symptomatic players and anyone -- players of staff members -- conducting cross-border travel between the U.S. and Canada.
The NHL and NHLPA took a vastly different approach to its COVID-19 crisis in December, tightening its protocols to include daily testing, enhanced travel restrictions and more. But the league has gradually reversed course -- adding taxi squads and reducing isolation periods for asymptomatic players -- in what's likely an attempt to finish its season on time.
All but one NHL player (Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi) is vaccinated against COVID-19, and 73% of the league's players have tested positive this season -- meaning they weren't or won't be tested for 90 days by NHL rule. The NHL and NHLPA also reportedly won't require players to get a booster shot.
The NHL All-Star Weekend is set for Feb. 4-5 in Las Vegas, and ESPN is reporting players will only be tested before arrival instead of throughout.