Of course, this announcement has been brewing for a few days ... as COVID cases continue to spike, not just in the hockey league but in the NFL and NBA as well.
As of this week, 11 NHL teams have suspended operations and 49 total games have been postponed, including the games affected by the pause starting Wednesday, according to a report by ESPN.
There's more -- the NHL also reintroduced stricter protocols this week for players ... which means more rigorous testing (daily, instead of once every three days), social distancing measures, and restrictions on where players can go when they're not playing.
"Players will report back to their Clubs on Dec. 26, which shall be used for testing, practice and/or travel only," the league's statement said.
"Upon return from the Holiday Break to team facilities, no individual in the team’s Traveling Party shall enter the facility (other than for testing purposes) until they have a negative test result. "
The league's regular-season schedule is expected to resume on Dec. 27.