Leafs caught between decisions of NHL and Ontario Government

Two Toronto Maple Leafs games have been postponed through no fault of their own, in a situation where no resolution appears imminent.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had six games postponed due to COVID-related issues so far this season, including Wednesday’s contest with the Pittsburgh Penguins. These are all fixtures which can theoretically be made up during February, after the NHL’s decision to withdraw its players from the 2022 Winter Olympics.

However, there is now another issue for the Leafs to contend with, due to a further decision made by the league. The NHL announced on Tuesday that nine games have been postponed due to Canadian attendance restrictions:

Put another way, the NHL is looking to protect as much of their revenue as possible. For the Leafs specifically, their home game versus the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 3 and their trip to Montreal on Jan. 6 have both been postponed.

This has come about as a knock-on effect of the Ontario Government’s decision earlier this month, to limit the capacity of games at Scotiabank Arena to 50 per cent. This was soon followed by decisions in other Canadian provinces, all aimed at reducing the recent surge of COVID-19 cases.

While the decisions of both the NHL and the Ontario Government are understandable, it could prove problematic if nothing changes in the near future. In this respect, there is little to suggest the Canadian provinces will relax their stance anytime soon.

Admittedly it is still early days though, with Bill Daly offering a measured response on what is a delicate situation. As reported by Sportsnet, the NHL’s deputy commissioner said:

“We have always had the issue of differing rules in different jurisdictions, so it’s not a new challenge. [We are] navigating choppy waters the best we can.”

Certainly, the NHL faces a challenging situation, especially when compared to the NFL and NBA. The NHL has seven Canadian teams to consider, while the NFL and NBA combined only have to concerns themselves with the Raptors.

At the time of writing, 81 games in total on the 2021-22 NHL schedule have been postponed.* You have to wonder how many more will be added to this list in the coming days (and weeks).

The Leafs and the other six Canadian teams essentially find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Once again, COVID-19 is controlling the narrative in Canada.

* So far, only the Ottawa Senators’ Nov. 16 game against the New Jersey Devils has been made up, after being rescheduled for Dec. 6. 

What is your take on the Leafs’ current situation? How soon do you see the matter being resolved? Let us know in the comments section below.