The NHL and the NHLPA today made a statement that they will be “pausing” the current season and will “resume play as soon as it is appropriate.”
The announcement comes in the wake of other sports leagues in North America delaying their seasons due to the coronavirus. The NBA did the same in suspending their season yesterday due to a player testing positive for the virus. In addition, Major League Baseball has delayed its season two weeks and canceled Spring Training games effective today, Major League Soccer has suspended their season for at least 30 days, the NCAA has suspended games until further notice and even NASCAR has postponed events for the time being.
The announcement of the postponement of the season was made by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman earlier today. He said: “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.”
The Devils were scheduled to take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Prudential Center.
Bettman continued: “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.
“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. 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 also had a say in the decision and stated the following: “The decision to temporarily suspend play due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an appropriate course of action at this time.
“The NHLPA will continue to closely monitor this very dynamic situation and remain in daily discussions with the League, our medical consultants, and our players regarding all aspects of this matter. The players are looking forward to the opportunity to resume play in front of hockey fans everywhere.”
It should be interesting how this plays out. Obviously, time would be of the essence since you cannot expect the ice to be “NHL-worthy” come July should the season and playoffs get pushed back too far. You cannot really account for that, though, since you are at the mercy of the virus.
At the same time, this is a delicate situation where the health and safety of the players, fans, coaches, staff and other people in the arenas have to be taken into consideration.
Hopefully, situations get resolved and things can resume. Until then, we will try to keep everyone posted on the goings-on and will hopefully get hockey sooner rather than later. Stay healthy everybody!