NHL ‘pause’ season in response to pandemic

Dave Kuzio:

The NHL has announced that it is 'pausing' the 2019/20 season due to the crisis that has already hit the NBA and is ravaging sports leagues across the United States.

Following the suspension of the NBA campaign, the NHL confirmed that it would looking at its options on Thursday, and this afternoon the premier league of ice hockey announced that the season would go on temporary hiatus.

“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. 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.”

Prior to that announcement the Columbus Blue Jackets had already announced that tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins would go ahead behind closed doors, while the San Jose Sharks said they would play the remainder of their three home matches without any fans in attendance.

Those games are now off and the decision to put the season on ‘pause’ has been applauded by the NHL Players’ Association.

“The decision to temporarily suspend play due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an appropriate course of action at this time.” read a statement.

“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.”