As expected with the ongoing health crisis that is the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, the National Hockey League has suspended the 2019-20 season until further notice. The decision was announced shortly after the NHL Board Of Governors held an emergency phone conference in which NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly proposed a pause of the season that wasn’t opposed by any of the 31 NHL clubs.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 12, 2020
The NHL Players Association also were in full agreement that this is the right course of action.
The decision to temporarily suspend play due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an appropriate course of action at this time. pic.twitter.com/ApudNZvurS
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) March 12, 2020
There are so many details that the league and players will have to go through over the next week or two in terms of contracts, salaries, practices, meetings… For now, it seems the message is “everyone go home and we’ll figure it out later.”
More details on the NHL suspending play. No travel allowed. No meeting. No paractices. However, it’s a rapidly changing environment. For now it’s go home, go home and stay home until further notice.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 12, 2020
The suspension of the NHL season seemed inevitable given how the world of sports seems to be shutting down in such a rapid fashion over the last 24 hours. Two days ago the NHL along with other major sports leagues in North America had taken measures such as limiting contact between media and players, while local governments were prohibiting large public gatherings which suggested that games could continue without the presence of fans.
The attitude that the games could continue at least seemed to change drastically on Wednesday evening as Rudy Gobert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus and the scheduled game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was canceled. The NBA then minutes later, announced a full suspension of their season after the conclusion of games on March 11.
The NHL waited overnight to have its conference call with the BoG to confirm their suspension, but as far as what’s next, no one truly knows. The general feeling is that there is a commitment to resume the season at some point, and there have been suggestions that the NHL has asked all teams to look into the availability of their buildings up until July.
We don’t know how long this will last. A few weeks? A couple of months? Will it lead to a cancellation of the season? Will the NHL at some point come back and skip right to the playoffs, and if they do, how do they determine who is in?
These are all questions that we will learn the answers to over time, but for now they are also all questions that should be put on the back-burner as the health of players, staff and fans becomes the main priority.