Coronavirus: NHL to be 'flexible' over schedule upon return, no plan to shorten 20-21 season


The NHL will be "flexible" when it comes to the schedule for the rest of the season, though a delayed finish will not have a knock-on impact for the 2020-21 campaign.

Commissioner Gary Bettman announced a pause in games amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 12, with players then told four days later to self-isolate until March 27.

At the time of the suspension, there were still 189 matches remaining. The Stanley Cup playoffs, meanwhile, were due to begin at the start of April.

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In a Q&A press release, the NHL confirmed that, with no planned date for a return, they are keeping their options open while reacting to "the best medical advice available".

"The form and format of resumption of play scenarios will depend entirely on what transpires between now and when we are permitted and able to resume - and, ultimately, on timing and taking into account logistical constraints," the governing body said. 

"We are going to have to be flexible and react to events as they unfold as well as the best medical advice available."

The global pandemic has had a huge impact on sporting events and leagues around the world, though the NHL's stoppage will not also affect next season.

"We do not anticipate a scenario in our resumption of play format that would endanger or interfere with the league's ability to stage and execute the 2020-21 NHL season in its entirety," it said, echoing previous comments made by Bettman.

Two players - both with the Ottawa Senators - have been diagnosed with COVID-19, though their symptoms were described as "mild".

The NHL has no plans to carry out league-wide testing once the teams are cleared to go back to work.

Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes have temporarily closed their offices at their PNC Arena.

In a statement released on Monday, team president and general manager Don Waddell said employees in hockey and business operations will operate remotely in an effort to help stop the spread of the virus.

"As the situation with coronavirus continues to escalate, it is clear that social distancing is the best way to protect our employees and help to flatten the curve," Waddell said.

"We will continue to operate our business on the hockey and arena sides as normally as possible given the circumstances."




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