Montreal-Boston game postponed amid rise in COVID-19 cases

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May 29, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; General view of seats at the Bell Centre reserved for fans before game six between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

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Dec 17 (Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL), which has been dealing with a rise in COVID-19 cases, has postponed Saturday's game between host Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins, it said on Friday.

Boston have seven players in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol and Montreal hosted Philadelphia on Thursday in an empty arena amid a rise in positive cases in Quebec and concerns about the Omicron variant.

The game between the Atlantic Division rivals is the 11th that has been postponed this season, which does little to quell concerns regarding the NHL's plan to send the world's top players to the Feb. 4-20 Beijing Olympics.

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The NHL agreed to a break in its schedule to make way for players to compete in Beijing with the caveat that it could withdraw on its own if an abundance of COVID-19 disruptions forced games to be rescheduled during the Olympic window.

A rescheduled date for Saturday's game has not been decided but the NHL said in a news release that Montreal can resume their regular schedule on Dec. 20 at the New York Islanders.

The Bruins, who count captain Patrice Bergeron among their players in COVID-19 protocol, are due to play their next game on Sunday at Ottawa.

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Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris

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