The National Hockey League's season may be in serious jeopardy after an announcement from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on Sunday.
According to a breaking alert on the CDC's official website, the CDC now recommends that organizers postpone events in the United States for the next 8 weeks in which 50 or more people would be in attendance. This is a drastic measure on the part of the CDC and perhaps is an indication of just how serious they now feel the coronavirus outbreak will be in in the United States moving forward. This likely means that all major sporting events, concerts, and large gatherings in general will now be completely shut down for the next two months.
Of course the National Hockey League has the majority of its teams based in the United States and usually welcomes thousands of fans to their games on any given night of the week, making the possibility of a potential return to normal in the short term now seem impossible. What makes this announcement even worse however is the 50 person limit, a major problem for the NHL even if they opted for the proposed suggestion of playing their games in empty arenas around the United States. The league would of course at least want camera crews on hand to record the games and broadcast them on television, and even if for some reason they were willing to go on without the camera crews the limit would pose a major problem. I find it impossible to believe that the league would be able to limit teams to 25 members each, not when you include coaches, training staff, medical personnel, emergency personnel, and of course the players themselves.
A two month hiatus would push us well into the month of June and it is hard to imagine how the NHL could complete the regular season and the playoffs without compromising the competitive integrity of the 2020 - 2021 NHL regular season. National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman has made it clear that the league's next season will proceed as normal and that they will not sacrifice the competitive integrity of that season regardless of what comes next, making it even more difficult to believe that there is a way forward for the NHL to preserve this current season.