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Florida Panthers shut down through Christmas due to Covid

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Covid florida panthers
The Florida Panthers had their final practice for at least the next few days Friday at the IceDen in Coral Springs. Hours later, the NHL postponed the team’s next three games. The Panthers will not play again until after the Christmas break. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers will not play until Dec. 27 at the earliest after the NHL postponed their next three games due to a Covid-19 outbreak on the team.

The Panthers were scheduled to play in Minnesota on Saturday and Chicago on Tuesday before returning home to play host to Nashville next Thursday.

Florida’s next game, it hopes, will be Dec. 27 in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The NHL also shut down the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche through the already scheduled Christmas break.

Usually, when a team has games postponed due to Covid, the league shuts down their training facility which means no meetings or practices for the next few days.

Per the NHL, “a decision on when each team’s training facilities will re-open will be made by the league and the NHLPA in the coming days.”

The NHL traditionally shuts down for Christmas from Dec. 24-25. The Panthers were scheduled to practice on Dec. 26.

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The Panthers were supposed to fly to Minnesota on Friday afternoon but that was cancelled not long after the team held a practice in Coral Springs.

None of the seven players who were put into Covid protocol were on the ice and were not expected to be available.

Florida was also missing goalie Sergei Bobrovsky whom coach Andrew Brunette only said “was not feeling great.”

The other players in protocol: Ryan Lomberg, Aaron Ekblad, Radko Gudas, Brandon Montour, Carter Verhaeghe, Frank Vatrano and Sam Bennett.

The Panthers lost to the visiting Los Angeles Kings 4-1 on Thursday as the team played two men short with five recent call-ups from the AHL Charlotte Checkers in the lineup.

Those players are expected to return to Charlotte for the team’s weekend series against the Bridgeport Islanders.

Goalie Spencer Knight is already there.

According to the league, the “Flames, Avalanche and Panthers organizations have followed, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of their Players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, local, state/provincial and federal agencies.”

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