Six players and two staff members of the Dallas Stars recently tested positive for COVID-19, the club announced Friday. As a result of the positive tests, the league is in the process of reviewing and revising the team's schedule "with the expectation that the team will not open its 2020-21 season earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 19," a statement said.
The Stars were scheduled to open the season with two games against the Florida Panthers on Jan. 14 and 15 and then two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 17 and 19. The plan is to reschedule all games affected by the delay, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
The Panthers confirmed the two games scheduled to be played at BB&T Center are being postponed.
"The safety of our fans, players, personnel, and the community are, and will remain, our top priority, and therefore we, along with the Dallas Stars organization, will continue to follow all recommended protocols and guidelines as we observe this postponement," the Panthers' statement read.
Dallas canceled the team's practice on Friday morning. The Columbus Blue Jackets also held out a large number of players from practice Friday due to COVID-19 protocols.
The Stars' training facilities have been closed and will remain shut for several days while more daily testing and contact tracing occurs. All players and staff who tested positive are self-isolating and following appropriate protocols.
The NHL successfully held its playoffs last season in two secure bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto with 24 teams playing. There were no positive COVID-19 tests recorded throughout the two months of play. This season, the league realigned its divisions to minimize travel and implemented a number of rules to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus.