Updates and Cancellations: How coronavirus is impacting hockey

The effects of COVID-19 are being felt globally throughout the hockey world. (Getty)

Follow along for the latest updates on how COVID-19 is affecting the hockey landscape.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A second Ottawa Senators player tests positive for COVID-19

Both players were a part of the most recent road trip including games in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles, where 52 members of the organization travelled. The statement also shares that 44 of the members of the trip have shown no symptoms, while eight people have been tested, and two positive results have been received.

The team is still awaiting the results from tests that took place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

2020 IIHF World Championship cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreak

After much speculation, the IIHF council confirmed the decision to cancel the tournament scheduled for May in Switzerland. This is the latest IIHF event to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Both the Women’s World Hockey Championships and the Men’s Under-18 World Hockey Championship were cancelled earlier this month due to the virus.

Bruins owner last to announce COVID-19 worker fund, still falls short

The Boston Bruins finally announced Saturday that the Jacobs Family has established a $1.5-million fund for part-time and game day workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the release states that workers will not be compensated until games are cancelled, not suspended, which could take weeks or months.

Here’s a comprehensive list of what each NHL team is doing for part-time and game day staff amid the COVID-19 suspension.

How NHL clubs will pay part-time workers during COVID-19 shutdown

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Bruins arena employees frustrated as team has yet to offer financial support

Every team in the NHL has made some kind of commitment to their employees except for one: the Boston Bruins. The arena staff at TD Garden have not received word from the Bruins about the matter, according to Marisa Ingemi of the Boston Herald.

“This experience has been hell for me personally,” said a server at the Legends restaurant at the Garden, per Ingemi. “My biggest fear is always being homeless again.”

NHL Seattle won't name expansion team amid COVID-19

As the NHL reels and figures out its next steps in trying to salvage some kind of 2019-20 postseason amid the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, the naming of its newest franchise will have to wait.

“NHL Seattle will not unveil the team’s new name this month because of sensitivities related to the coronavirus pandemic. The club entered this year hoping to have the name selected and ready for release in Q1, but those plans are being pushed back.” Mark J. Burns of the Sports Business Journal reported.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

QMJHL, WHL, OHL cancel regular seasons over COVID-19

In a ripple effect, major hockey leagues canceled their regular seasons. Where the CHL’s three leagues and their respective postseasons go from here is truly anyone’s guess, but it’s obvious the QMJHL, OHL and WHL playoffs—and the Memorial Cup—are all in serious jeopardy.

NHL taking steps to control spread of COVID-19, ideas for completing 19-20 season

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly spoke on the Coronavirus situation.

“The virus’s impact on our community was inevitable to a certain extent,” Daly told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. “It was really just a matter of time until we were going to have our first player test positive.”

For Daly, the approach does not change because an active player was infected. The same preventative steps, most importantly self-quarantining, remains the course of action when treating the ill and preventing the spread of the disease.

Daly told LeBrun the NHL will not sacrifice a portion of next season while weighing the options with regard to how it will proceed with the remainder of this year. More specifically, that is, the NHL is prioritizing the 2020-21 campaign over trying desperately to rescue the current season in its complete form.

The NHL has not tipped its hand in any way with regard to how it might look to complete the current season in a timely fashion, but the solution talked about most seems to be a 20 or 24-team tournament that will begin with a play-in round to establish seeding for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Hayley Wickenheiser calls plans for Tokyo Games to continue 'irresponsible'

Hayley Wickenheiser, six-time Olympian and member of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission, blasted the IOC for their recommendation to hold the upcoming Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics,” Wickenheiser wrote.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

NHL players reportedly propose revised schedule for return after coronavirus

The potential plan — that has not yet been officially proposed to the league’s executives — would see teams return for a short training camp in early July. After all 31 teams have warmed up, they would all play the equal amount of games later that month, before starting the usual eight-week long postseason.

Anaheim Ducks players quarantine

After the Ottawa Senators announced that an unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19 and is exhibiting mild symptoms, the Anaheim Ducks have their players under quarantine.

The team reports that no player has exhibited symptoms at the time of posting, but that the situation will be regularly monitored.

The Ducks hosted the Senators in Anaheim on March 10.

First NHL player tests positive for COVID-19

The unnamed Ottawa Senators player has mild symptoms of coronavirus and is currently in isolation. It is believed that several other players may also be ill, according to James Mirtle and Hailey Salvian of The Athletic. Due to this result, all members of the Senators are in isolation as well and are seeking advice from team medical staff.

QMJHL cancels remainder of regular season

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has canceled the remainder of the regular season and will seed for the playoffs, if and when they are played, based on points percentage.

KHL suspends play until April

Yesterday the KHL announced plans to suspend operations for one week, but 15 hours later, decided to officially suspended play until April 10.

“If Russia remains in its current state of heightened alert due to the outbreak, and restrictions on attending games remain in place, the KHL will make a further announcement at that time.”

Monday, March 16, 2020

NHL issues new directive to players

Players have been instructed by the league to travel home and self-quarantine until the end of March, but it may be short lived. According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the league hopes to re-open camps in late April.

KHL team withdraws from playoffs as league forges on

Nur-Sultan Barys has pulled out of the KHL playoffs, one of the only leagues still running globally. The KHL is currently in the conference semifinals, with eight teams still scheduled to play games in the coming days.

Canucks Sports & Entertainment staffer tests positive for COVID-19 virus

A staff member of Canucks Sports & Entertainment has tested positive for COVID-19.

“The individual does not have a fan-facing role and is not in contact with the players, hockey operations personnel or Rogers Arena part-time events staff,” the team announced in a press release. “Therefore the Public Health Authority has confirmed the public risk of exposure is low.”

The individual is self-quarantining and feeling better.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

SPHL cancels rest of season and playoffs

In a release from the league, the Southern Professional Hockey League have cancelled the remaining games of their season and playoffs. Following suit from professional European leagues and the ECHL, the SPHL will focus on returning this fall after an initial suspension of play.

Flames reverse decision, create program for part-time employees

After making it clear that they would not financially support the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation’s hourly workers on Saturday, the Flames released a statement that they have now created a program for those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The part-time employees, now out of work, will receive a “top up payment” from CSEC in addition to Employment Insurance. For those not able to qualify for EI, they will still receive their equivalent payment from the Flames ownership group.

SHL cancels championship, teams will stay within divisions

The Swedish Hockey League released a statement, clarifying that they have cancelled the entirety of the playoffs and no championship will be awarded. In addition, no team will have to face relegation to the Allsvenskan and no current second-division club will get promoted to the SHL.

KHL will comply with instructions from authorities

The Russian KHL issued a statement regarding their championship as it pertains to COVID-19 precautions. The league announced that they are in consultation with clubs and all relevant authorities to diligently manage the impact of this matter.

NHL stars donating memorabilia to response fund

A collection of NHL stars including Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights are among the athletes donating items to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy's COVID-19 Response Fund auction at athletesrelief.org.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

ECHL cancels remainder of 2019-20 season and playoffs

The ECHL became the first notable professional hockey league in North America to announce a full cancellation of its season and postseason. Salaries for team staff and players will be paid through Monday, while insurance will be honored until June 30.

QMJHL requesting teams to arrange travel for European players

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has reportedly sent out a memo, asking its 18 teams to organize travel for the 36 European players that play in the league. As of Thursday, the league has suspended all play.

Some NHL clubs will pay part-time workers during shutdown, some will not

The Calgary Flames announce they will not be compensating part-time staff for events and games that have been cancelled. Over a dozen NHL teams have announced plans to financially support workers throughout these uncertain times.

Friday, March 13, 2020

World under-18 men's hockey championship cancelled

The IIHF announced the cancellation of the world under-18 men's hockey championship, following the cancellation of the women’s world championships earlier in the week. The men's world championship in Switzerland in May is the only tournament remaining on the schedule at this moment.

NHL players will be paid during league shutdown

All players will rightfully be paid their final three cheques of the 2019-20 season, despite the league shutting down the current campaign indefinitely.

NHL players in isolation while season is on hold

The NHL told players and staff to stay away from the rink and self-isolate while hockey is on a hiatus of unknown length during the coronavirus pandemic. No players or league employee’s have tested positive for COVID-19 at this point.

NHL expects to eventually resume play after pausing season

In a press conference held Friday, commissioner Gary Bettman said the hope is to award the Stanley Cup at a later date.

"I'm a little hesitant to use the word suspension, because our hope and our expectation is, when things get back to normal and it's safe and it's prudent, that we can go back and resume the season and ultimately have the Stanley Cup awarded.”

Thursday, March 12, 2020

San Jose Sharks arena employee tests positive for coronavirus

A part-time employee at San Jose’s SAP Center tested positive for COVID-19.

All Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities cancelled indefinitely

Hockey Canada’s Board of Directors made the decision to cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities, including national championships, until further notice.

The three national championships impacted include the Esso Cup, (women's U-18 club championship), the TELUS Cup (men’s U-18 AAA championship), and the Centennial Cup (national Junior A champion).

As a result, the U Sports men’s and women’s Canadian university hockey championships were also cancelled Thursday night tournament.

CHL, AHL pause all hockey-related activity until further notice

The Canadian Hockey League (CHL), Canada’s largest major junior hockey league which is made up of the Western Hockey League (WHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) announced Thursday afternoon that all games will be paused until further notice.

Additionally, the American Hockey League (AHL), the official minor league affiliate of the National Hockey League, followed suit from the parent league by announcing that play would be suspended until further notice the league said in a statement on their website.

NHL suspends 2019-20 season amid coronavirus pandemic

The NHL suspended the 2019-20 season at 1:30 PM on Thursday afternoon, becoming one of many professional sports league to take action after the NBA was the first to do so.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

NHL will not suspend regular season at this time after NBA decides to do so

After the NBA sends shockwaves through the sports world on Wednesday by announcing its regular season has been suspended due to the threat of COVID-19, the NHL elects to not follow suit immediately.

Even before Gobert’s reportedly positive test, the NHL was debating postponing things earlier on Wednesday, according to Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association will review the situation throughly and provide a further update on Thursday.

USA Hockey shuts down national championships

Around the same time the NHL made its announcement on Wednesday, USA Hockey officially cancelled a number of national championships including its high school, youth, girls, adult and sled competitions.

These tournaments were to begin across the country on March 26, according to an official release from the organization. Its Disabled Hockey Festival — which was to occur over two weekends in late March and early April — has also been cancelled.

Blue Jackets and Sharks to play home games without fans

Ohio governor Mike DeWine announces Wednesday that Tuesday’s recommendation to the Columbus Blue Jackets—and all major sports entities within the state—has officially become mandatory. As a result, the team will be unable to play games in front of “mass gatherings,” (more than 1,000 people) and will have to make arrangements for their final home games of the season.

After it was announced on Monday, March 9 that gatherings of over 1,000 would be cancelled within California’s Santa Clara County, the San Jose Sharks release an update regarding home games scheduled at SAP Center for the rest of the month.

Per Wednesday’s release, “all three San Jose Sharks games (March 19 vs. Montreal, March 21 vs. Boston and March 29 vs. Arizona) will be played as scheduled... but will be closed to the general public.”

Only personnel from the two teams involved in each game, approved credentialed media, essential club and arena staff, NHL officials and broadcast partners will be allowed into the building.

The team’s AHL affiliate — the San Jose Barracuda — will follow the same policy. They have two home games in the month of March that will be impacted.

According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, there’s been “internal daily, high-level meetings chaired by commissioner Gary Bettman discussing options.”

As of Wednesday, the Sharks and Blue Jackets are the only teams whose local governments have banned mass gatherings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

NCAA Frozen Four tournament to be played without fans

Just like March Madness, the NCAA Frozen Four tournament will be played without spectators in attendance.

Harvard hockey shuts down its season

The prominent Ivy League institution is the first major North American hockey program to completely shut down for the season on Wednesday.

The school pulls out of the ECAC conference tournament and forgoes any chance to participate in the (now fan-less) Frozen Four national championship.

Four more top European leagues cancel seasons

One day after the top professional league in both Austria and Germany put an end to their current seasons, the premier leagues in Poland, Norway, Slovakia and Slovenia follows suit and cancels the rest of their respective campaigns.

As of Wednesday, a number of the other European leagues have postponed or suspended postseason action, according to Szymon Szemberg — the Managing Director of the Alliance of European Hockey Clubs.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Two European hockey leagues cancel playoffs

Austria’s top league, the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (EBEL), and Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) both announce they are abruptly ending their respective seasons as the disease continues to ravage parts of Europe.

Despite being in the midst of their quarter-final playoff rounds, the EBEL release the following statement:

“The Erste Bank Eishockey Liga has to end the current season. With this action, the League is responding to the measures and recommendations of the governments and competent authorities in the participating countries.”

In a similar release less than an hour later, the top German league says they will also be axing the rest of the season, including playoffs:

Official statement from the DEL, via Google Translate. (Twitter/DELoffiziell)
Official statement from the DEL, via Google Translate. (Twitter/DELoffiziell)

Monday, March 9, 2020

COVID-19 crowd ban applied to San Jose Sharks home games

Santa Clara County in California issues a cancellation of mass gatherings over 1,000 people. The ban applies to all events at the SAP Center during the month of March, including three home games for the San Jose Sharks on March 19 vs. Montreal, March 21 vs. Boston and March 29 vs. Arizona.

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