NHL suspends 2019-20 season amid coronavirus pandemic
The NHL suspended the 2019-20 season, becoming the next major professional sports league to take action due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The league released the following statement:
In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019‑20 season beginning with tonight’s games.
The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures. However, following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time
We will continue to monitor all the appropriate medical advice, and we will encourage our players and other members of the NHL community to take all reasonable precautions – including by self-quarantine, where appropriate. Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.
The @NHL pauses 2019-20 season. https://t.co/WMePei4clH pic.twitter.com/W5Hqmk3kX7
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 12, 2020
On-ice officials who were originally scheduled to work Thursday’s slate of games were instructed to book flights home, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports.
After Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with coronavirus on Wednesday, the NBA suspended play for the rest of the season immediately, and essentially every major sporting entity and league across North America, Europe, and the rest of the world have either suspended play or cancelled their seasons entirely.
On the hockey side of things, there has yet to be a player test positive for COVID-19, but It was revealed on Thursday that an employee at San Jose’s SAP Center was diagnosed with coronavirus. The individual reportedly last worked at the arena on March 3 when the Sharks hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs, just prior to Santa Clara Public Health Department's recommendation to cancel events with over 1,000 people.
The Sharks were the first team to take precautions earlier this week, announcing that all home games in March would be held without fans, before the Columbus Blue Jackets finally followed suit in the frantic hours leading up to the season’s postponement.
The CHL, USHL, and all junior and minor hockey entities across Canada and the U.S. have shut down for the time being, too.
Along with the NBA and NHL seasons, Major League Baseball, every event under the NCAA umbrella (including March Madness), and both the ATP and WPT have either been put on hold indefinitely or cancelled completely. The PGA Tour originally said it would continue as is without fans on the course before abruptly cancelling the already-in-progress Player’s Championship late Thursday—it’s unsure yet if the upcoming Masters Tournament, golf’s premier event, will go ahead.
This summer will bring two marquee events in UEFA Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics. It’s unsure at this time how either of those will be impacted.
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