An NHL Game Was Postponed, and for Once, It Wasn’t Because of COVID-19

Just over a month into the 2021 NHL season, the schedule lies in tatters. Before Monday night, the league has had to postpone 35 games due to positive COVID-19 cases within at least one of the teams. On Monday, that total increased to 36. In an almost refreshing twist, COVID-19 is not the direct cause of this one.

Severe weather strikes Dallas

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This week, North Texas had experienced some of its most severe winter weather in decades. Temperatures in the area have hit record lows, while the city of Dallas recorded four inches of snow. The forecast calls for another five inches on Tuesday.

The effects of the weather have now extended into the world of sports. At the request of Dallas mayor Eric Johnson, the NHL postponed Monday night’s game between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. As of now, no make-up date has been announced.

The announcement of the postponement came just a half-hour before the game. According to The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro, the Stars were already in their locker room preparing for the game. In fact, the Stars’ official Twitter account actually tweeted a photo of some of the players arriving at the arena in winter weather clothing.

Bizarrely, the same two teams are scheduled to play at the same arena on Tuesday night. However, this game may also face postponement.

Why the postponement?

American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX -- home of the Stars and Mavericks
An exterior view of American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas | Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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In addition to record-low temperatures and snow, Texans have had to face rolling power blackouts. The winter storm has led to increased demand on the state’s power grid, just as generators across the state failed. It just so happens that American Airlines Center, the Stars’ home arena, is on the same power grid as several local hospitals.

“I don’t know the status of that grid, but frankly, the Stars game is not critical infrastructure,” said Tristan Hallman, a spokesman for Mayor Johnson.

The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks also play at the arena. Their next home game is scheduled for Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. No announcement has come yet as to whether this game will also be rescheduled.

Other infamous NHL weather and power fiascos

In hindsight, it’s pretty remarkable that the NHL — an indoor sport — can be just as susceptible to weather delays as outdoor sports. However, this is far from the first time the league has had to deal with Mother Nature.

In March 1968, the first-year Philadelphia Flyers were temporarily forced out of their new home arena, the Spectrum. During an Ice Capades show, a severe storm blew off part of the roof, rendering the Spectrum unusable for sporting events. With no other NHL-quality rinks in the area, the Flyers played most of their remaining home games in Quebec City.

The Flyers also played a part in arguably the most infamous NHL weather incident of all. At the third game of the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals between the Flyers and Sabres, high temperatures and humidity came to the city of Buffalo. Early in the game, a blanket of fog descended on the ice at Buffalo’s outdated Memorial Auditorium, which featured no air conditioning whatsoever. This game is also notable for a moment in the first period when a bat flew into the playing area, only to be swatted down by Sabres forward Jim Lorentz.