The NHL and NHLPA have postponed their international games for the upcoming 2020-21 season. “The NHLPA and the NHL remain committed to maintaining and growing our international presence,” the league and players’ union announced. “We hope that our fans overseas understand the need to postpone the 2020 games, but we look forward to being back with them in 2021.”
The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators were going to play a pair of international games in Prague, Czech Republic. Both teams were going to complete their training camps in Germany and Switzerland. They also were going to play against local club teams in their respective countries.
The Colorado Avalanche and the Columbus Blue Jackets were going to play a pair of international games at the Hartwell Arena in Helsinki, Finland. “We are disappointed by the postponement of our trip to Finland, but look forward to having the opportunity to play in front of Finland’s passionate hockey fans in the future,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Keklainen said.
The NHL is actively trying to make their presence in China. They’ve played preseason games there in 2017 and 2018. They missed this past fall due to logistical issues with booking arenas. The league targeted an event in China during the 2020-21 season, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that would be “unlikely”. “We haven’t announced anything,” Daly said. “But it is unlikely we will play games in China next season, in part because of this [health crisis].”
The 2019-20 season has been on pause for almost two months because of the coronavirus outbreak. However, the league is still trying to find a way to continue to finish the season during the summer. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at the end of April suggested that the 2020-21 season would start as late as December.