Hughes on COVID List and Other NHL News Coming Out of All-Star Game

There were a few news items that emerged from the aftermath of the 2022 NHL All-Star Game this weekend regarding the Devils directly and the league as a whole.

First, the news Devils-related news.

All-Star Jack Hughes returned to New Jersey this afternoon and was added to the COVID protocol list.

Hughes tested positive for COVID on Sunday afternoon according to Devils’ reporter Sam Kasan. He was then pulled from practice at RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House.

Devils assistant coach Alain Nasreddine told Kasan that “We know the gig now, when a trainer comes to you during practice is not a good sign. Losing your best player is never good. It’s part of the game right now. We’ll have to deal with, and unfortunately he won’t be here next game.”

The Devils next game is tomorrow at the Ottawa Senators and, although this is an educated guess on my part, he will likely not on Tuesday either since that game is in Montreal. Most likely the earliest we will be seeing Hughes back will be Thursday when the Devils travel to St. Louis to play the Blues.

In other, more NHL-centric news, Tracey Myers of is reporting that the league would like to play a World Cup of Hockey before the 2026 Winter Olympics.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly made that announcement on Friday.

The next Winter Olympics will take place in Milano Cortina, Italy and Daly said that the league “had a meeting with the [NHL] Players’ Association last week” regarding a World Cup of Hockey event. He said that “It is something that we committed to each other throughout kind of the Olympic developments, that we would get to it very quickly because we need to get to it very quickly.”

The last WCH took place in 2016, with all of the games being held in Toronto. It featured NHL players representing Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, the USA, a pan-European team with players from countries without specific teams there (think Leon Draisaitl and Germany) and a North American team made up of the best NHL players from North America under 20 years old.

It was a two-week tournament won by Team Canada over Team Europe in a best-of-three games final.

The event known as the World Cup of Hockey was previously held in 1996 and 2004. It is essentially the spiritual successor to the Canada Cup tournament held throughout the eighties.

Daly did mention that a current WCH would have some “different elements, more exciting, compelling elements to it” that would make it look different from the 2016 iteration. But other than that, he did not go into too much detail since they are “going to follow up with each other and follow up with our partners with the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) on that tournament.”

This article did say that the “NHL intends to participate in the 2026 Olympics.”

In addition to that, Dan Rosen of wrote an article saying that the NHL Global Series will be returning next season in Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Germany.

According to Rosen, there will be preseason and regular season games being played across those four European countries.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement during his annual press conference at All-Star Weekend.

The preseason games will be held in Switzerland and Germany and the regular season games will be in Finland and the Czech Republic.

Rosen said that “teams, dates and cities for the games were not announced.”

The last game played outside of North America, according to Rosen’s article was on November 9, 2020 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Buffalo Sabres at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden which the Lightning won 5-3.

The pandemic canceled games as part of the 2020 NHL Global Series – the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators were supposed to contest two preseason games in Mannheim, Germany and Bern, Switzerland as well as a regular season game in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Devils played the Edmonton Oilers in a Global Series game in Switzerland back in 2017.

Other events for next season will see the 2023 Winter Classic return to Fenway Park in Boston as the Bruins will take on an as-yet-unnamed opponent, the 2023 Stadium Series will be held at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina as a make-good to the Hurricanes, who were supposed to play there for the 2021 game. Their opponent has not been announced either.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will be held at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida. This will also be a makeup as the Panthers were supposed to host the 2021 All-Star Weekend, which was also canceled due to the COVID pandemic last year.

And finally, speaking of COVID restrictions and rescheduling, writer Tom Gulitti reports that the 2022 NHL Draft, as well as games in Canadian venues, could be moved to due to COVID restrictions currently ongoing.

With the seven Canada-based games having attendance capped as part of COVID pandemic restrictions, there is fear that revenue could be severely negatively impacted.

Bettman said that the NHL would consider allowing the Canadian teams “to move home games if attendance restrictions remain in place in Canada.”

The Draft is to be held July 7 and 8, 2022 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Currently, the Canadiens are limited to 500 people in the building through February 13. If those restrictions are not lifted, the NHL would consider moving the Draft to another venue. This could include holding it virtually for a third straight year as per Daly.

Montreal was supposed to host the Draft prior to it going virtual in 2020 as well.

Devils Get Three Players Back from COVID List

Going once again to Sam Kasan reporting for the “Inside the Devils Blog,” the Devils got three players back today from the COVID Protocol list: goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood and forwards Mason Geertsen and Janne Kuokkanen.

With that, Kasan points out, the Devils are beginning to get a full roster of healthy players for the first time in about five weeks.

Kasan noted that the three players released from COVID Protocol “rejoined the club for practice on Monday afternoon at Prudential Center.”

It should be mentioned that, as per Kasan, these players did not have “particularly bad symptoms to their illness” and were “mostly dealing with boredom.”

The thing that really stands out is that the players were out of commission for a little over a week and could only condition through body-weight exercises. Kasan then relayed how being “tossed back into practice can be jolting” for the players who were out.

Blackwood said “It felt more like a training camp day for me, getting my wind back, my legs back. It didn’t get me like it did last time. I feel like I’ll be good to go.”

Blackwood had battled COVID in January of last year as well.

Geertsen added “I was a little bit stiff. I made sure to do a little extra in warmup to make sure I was bit limber and ready to go. I was breathing hard in the drills, but it felt good.” He continued, “I feel like I’m good to go. I was a little rusty (Monday). (Tuesday) will be another tune up and if they call me on Wednesday, I’ll be ready to rock.”

Kasan said that the Devils had 17 players on the NHL roster having tested positive for COVID throughout the season.