Stars start to NHL season in disarray after eight virus cases

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Eight members of the Dallas Stars organization have tested positive for Covid-19, the National Hockey League said Friday, forcing postponement of the team's opening games in the 2021 season.

A statement from the NHL said six players and two staff members had returned positive tests for the coronavirus, throwing Dallas' preparations for the new season into disarray.

The Stars had been due to play their first game of the new season against the Florida Panthers next Thursday.

However, the NHL said Friday the Stars were now not likely to play before January 19, with additional fixtures against Florida and the reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning also expected to be postponed.

Dallas cancelled practice on Friday and the team's facilities have been shuttered.

The NHL said the individuals concerned were now self-isolating and following league protocols.

"As a result of the positive tests, and as an appropriate precaution, the team's training facilities have been closed, effective immediately, and will remain closed for several days while further daily testing and contact tracing is conducted," the NHL statement said.

"The league is in the process of reviewing and revising the Stars' regular season schedule with the expectation that the team will not open its 2020-21 season earlier than Tuesday, January 19," the NHL added.

The new NHL season was initially due to start in October last year and finish in April before the playoffs.

However, disruption caused by the pandemic forced league chiefs to cut the season to 56 games, running from January to May.