Updated Dec 20, 2021 - Sports

NHL pauses season through Christmas due to COVID surge

 NHL logo behind the net during the game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The National Hockey League announced it's briefly postponing all NHL games from Wednesday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Omicron variant spreads across North America.

Why it matters: Monday night's announcement of the postponement until Dec. 27 means the NHL is the first major pro sports league in North America to pause its season due to the coronavirus surge.

Driving the news: Several teams had their scheduled games postponed earlier Monday because of outbreaks within their teams — including the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Montreal Canadiens, the New Jersey Devils and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

By the numbers: The pandemic has caused the postponement of 44 games during the 2021-22 NHL season, CBS Sports notes.

The big picture: The NHL introduced a strict COVID vaccination policy in September and announced the following month that only four out of more than 700 players were unvaccinated for this season.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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