Coronavirus: 2019-20 NHL season 'paused' indefinitely

Omnisport

The NHL has paused its 2019-20 season with immediate effect amid the coronavirus outbreak, league commissioner Gary Bettman has announced.

It follows in the footsteps of the NBA and MLS in halting all matches in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

There have been over 1,400 confirmed cases in the United States, plus 122 in Canada, with 4,947 deaths among around 133,000 cases worldwide.

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Ten NHL games were scheduled for Thursday before the league confirmed its suspension.

Bettman said they would aim to "resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent", with the aim of completing the season and awarding the title.

Teams have already played between 68 and 71 games in the 82-game regular season, with the Stanley Cup Finals initially scheduled for late May and early June.

The decision was made after an unnamed Utah Jazz player was confirmed to have tested positive on Wednesday, prompting the suspension of the NBA, which uses several of the same arenas as the NHL.

Jazz star Donovan Mitchell confirmed on Thursday he was the second player who subsequently tested positive.

Bettman said: "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."

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