NHL suspends season amid coronavirus concerns

Sporting News

The NHL announced Thursday that all games wil be suspended indefinitely due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)

The announcement comes a day after the NBA indefinitely postponed its entire slate of games , with Utah Jazz players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell reportedly testing positive for the virus.

"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," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement . "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.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

"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."

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES: Cancellations, postponements in U.S., Canada

The NHL progressively had been limiting access on gamedays as the spread of the virus increased. On March 7, dressing rooms were closed to the media. This week, the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks announced that, in accordance with local government directives, their upcoming home games would be played without fans.

On Thursday morning, the league told teams not to hold morning skates or meetings.

All signs pointed toward the NHL following the lead of many leagues and competitions worldwide, and shortly after 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday, word became official.

“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," Bettman said. "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 Players Association released a statement shortly after the league's announcement, calling the suspension of play "an appropriate course of action at this time."

What to read next