The National Hockey League is starting to take extra measures to protect the coronavirus and there's no doubt that they are doing the right thing for the competitive integrity of the 2019 - 2020 NHL regular season but there are now concerns that it could impact the most important games of the year.
On Saturday night Sportsnet's NHL insider Chris Johnston revealed that the league had already begun asking their teams for available dates later in the month of April in an effort to prepare for an eventuality in which the coronavirus continues to spread throughout North America. This of course means that the NHL is preparing for the eventuality in which they would be forced to cancel or push back games as a result of the spread of the virus, and given the time of year that of course means that we could even see a direct impact on the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“This is an unprecedented situation,” Johnston said as per Sportsnet. “I do think there’s some real concern that this could have an impact on the most important games of the season.”
For his part Gary Bettman, the National Hockey League's commissioner, tried to downplay the entire situation and warned that there was no need to panic, this as other leagues around the world have already started to suspend play entirely.
“I don’t want to create any speculation or hysteria,” Bettman said. “There are obviously a variety of consequences that we may have to focus on and we’ll do that in the appropriate time, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, OK? We’re staying on top of it. We’re in constant communication with our clubs and the players association and we’re going to deal with this in as thorough, professional, on-top-of-it manner as possible. Let’s everybody take a deep breath.
Several teams around the league have already closed off their locker rooms to reporters and Johnston hinted at the fact that this could be a growing trend, and one that could be growing very quickly at that.
"We do expect that it could become a league wide action in the next 48 hours or so," said Johnston.
This is clearly a growing concern in the National Hockey League and it could not have come at a worse time.