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After the NBA sent shockwaves through the sports world on Wednesday by announcing its regular season has been suspended due to the threat of COVID-19, the NHL will not follow suit immediately.
“The National Hockey League is aware of the NBA’s decision tonight to indefinitely suspend its season due to a player testing positive for coronavirus,” said a release from NHL Public Relations on Wednesday night. “The NHL is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options. We expect to have a further update tomorrow [Thursday].”
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus prior to his team’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. Shortly thereafter, the NBA announced its decision to pause its current campaign indefinitely. Gobert is “feeling good, strong and stable,” per Charania.
“We are in continuous contact with the NHL regarding the coronavirus and the recent announcement by the NBA,” read a statement from the NHL Players’ Association that was published to Twitter about 50 minutes after the NHL’s. “These discussions will continue tomorrow [Thursday] morning, and we will consult with players before commenting further.”
The NHLPA and NHL simply need more time to consult with owners, players and all involved as they decide what the next step should be, according to Darren Dreger of TSN.
Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the NHL will conduct a conference call with its teams on Thursday while the NHLPA’s executive committee will review the situation carefully.
Even before the news from the NBA washed over the sports landscape, Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic reported the NHL was already considering a delay or “push back” of its season earlier Wednesday.
The global spread of COVID-19 has had massive implications within the hockey world throughout the last few days. Many of the top professional leagues in Europe already cancelled the rest of their seasons and playoffs. Meanwhile, a number of high-profile international tournaments will no longer go ahead as planned.
For a complete look at the impact of coronavirus on hockey around the world thus far, click here.
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