NHL Suspends Season Due to Coronavirus

After the NBA suspended the remainder of its 2019-2020 season due to the coronavirus, the NHL followed suit and suspended its current season on Thursday.

In a statement from league commissioner Gary Bettman, the league announced that it would halt the season as a safety precaution, beginning with Thursday night's games.

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"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," Bettman said. "However, following last night's news that an NBA 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."

Bettman's statement continued: "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."

Before deciding to put the season on hold, the NHL advised teams to not hold practices or meetings on Thursday.

"Given the uncertainty regarding next steps regarding the coronavirus, Clubs are advised not to conduct morning skates, practices or team meetings today," NHL Public Relations said in a tweet.

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The NHL signaled that a suspension was possible on Wednesday, with an announcement that the league would discuss whether or not to put the season on pause. That announcement came on the heels of the NBA's suspension and confirmation that Rudy Gobert—an All-Star player on the NBA's Utah Jazz team—had "preliminarily tested positive" for the virus. The NBA cancelled the Wednesday night game involving the player who tested positive.

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Fans use a hand sanitzer as they leave after a 3-2 Los Angeles Kings win over the Ottawa Senators during the third period in a 3-2 Kings win at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty

"The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight's game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena," the NBA announced in its statement on Wednesday. "At that time, tonight's game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena."

"The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight's schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic."

In a statement following the NBA news, the NHL released a statement that it would consult with medical experts to decide next steps, with an update expected for Thursday.

The NHL Players' Association wrote that it was in touch with NHL officials to keep updated on the league's decisions and what it could mean for players. "We are in continuous contact with the NHL regarding the coronavirus and the recent announcement by the NBA," the NHLPA wrote in a statement. "These discussions will continue tomorrow morning, and we will consult with players before commenting further."

The league's decision to put the season on hiatus came after the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS decided to close their locker rooms to press after games. As previously reported, the four leagues released a joint statement about the decision to close locker rooms.

"Given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice," the statement said.

Before the suspensions were made official, NHL and NBA teams were preparing to play in empty arenas to mitigate any further spreading of the virus.

NHL Suspends Season Due to Coronavirus | News