Per Chris Johnston, the NHL has suspended the remainder of this season due to the coronavirus after a call with the Board of Governors. The goal is to resume the season at a later date, once it is deemed safe. There is no time table for a proposed return, but the league is expected to take evaluation day by day per Darren Dreger. There will be no travel, meetings or practice during this time, but may change as the situation develops. The expected belief among media is that his hiatus will last at least two to three weeks.
The rumblings of this possibility started this morning when the NHL PR team tweeted out that all teams were “advised not to conduct morning skates, practices, or team meetings today”. Another great indication reported from Pierre LeBrun was that linesmen and referees were being told to book flights home. This is 24 hours after the NBA suspended their season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19. Just today a second player on the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell, tested positive for coronavirus. The swiftness of the decision is likely due to the fact that many NHL teams share their arenas with NBA teams, leading to more possibility of exposure.
The San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets announced that their upcoming home games in March would be played with only essential team, media, and arena staff in attendance yesterday. This was due to local government demands, and now is a moot point with the season suspended. A domino effect has occurred and the AHL, ECHL, CHL, and OHL have paused their seasons.
Other Hockey Cancellations
In addition to the NHL season with the recent US restrictions on travel to Europe, the IIHF has cancelled the upcoming U18 World Championships. This tournament was scheduled to start next week in Michigan. It is ultimately the right thing to do, as safety for both teams and fans should be and are at the forefront. The USHL has also suspended their season. Earlier this week, both the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (Austrian League) and the DEL (German League) cancelled the remainder of their playoffs and season.
Other Expected Cancellations
Per Grant Wahl, MLS has also suspended their season until further notice. Additionally the MLB has suspended spring training and will consider options when it comes to opening day. In what could be the most jarring blow, the NCAA Tournament is expected to be canceled or postponed. In other news, the SEC has cancelled the remainder of their tournament in Nashville. For more coverage check out Joe’s article here.
More updates will follow as information becomes available.
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Dalton L Jewell