NHL officially cancels its first event due to coronavirus fears

Buckle up, hockey fans. Now things could get interesting.

NHL officially cancels its first event due to coronavirus fears

This just in courtesy of NHL insider Frank Seravalli or TSN, the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) has cancelled its annual meeting in April due to fears over the coronavirus epidemic.

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 ESPN’s Emily Kaplan also reports that the NHL is “starting to explore contingency plans” should the coronavirus epidemic become a more significant threat in North America.

Kaplan reports that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has said the league is looking at all options including postponing games, cancelling games and playing games to empty arenas without fans.

“I think it’s very unlikely — knock on wood, I’m hopeful — that we would progress to a stage where we have to consider something that dramatic,” Daly said. “But certainly everything is possible, and we have to look at all possible contingencies. If it gets to that point, we will be ready.”

Daly did confirm that the league is unlikely to travel to China for exhibition games next season, as they previously had in 2017 and 2018.

“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].”
Asked for the other reasons, Daly said: “I’m not sure there would be any other reasons.”

In the meantime, all Daly and the league can do is listen to the advice of health professionals regardless of any self-imposed deadlines.

“It’s totally situation specific, but we have to think through all of the possibilities,” Daly said. “The leagues are all starting to do that, focusing on what we would do in a given situation. But obviously first and foremost, you listen to the health authorities and what they are telling you and what their concerns are and what their recommendations are. Right now, the CDC and Public Health Canada are both saying rely on local health organizations and agencies, so we’ll take our lead from them.”

The coronavirus outbreak affected the hockey community last month when factories for Bauer and CCM — the two largest hockey equipment manufacturers in the world — were forced to close temporarily.  Daly now says that issue has now been solved.

“The plants are up and running,” Daly said. “We were on top of that situation early. We assessed the supply issues. Certain clubs may have had issues if the shutdown was prolonged, but the manufacturing plants are up and running again. So all good on that front.”

Another concern for the league is the health and safety of its players when the season ends. Players often rack up the air miles in the offseason and Asia is a popular destination.

“Obviously we would make sure that everyone is aware of the situation, as well as best practices,” Daly said. “I can’t foresee issuing mandates, so each responsible entity would be responsible for making its own decisions. But we want to make sure everyone makes informed decisions.”

“This is an evolving situation, so you get up every day and see what the latest news is,” Daly said. “Certainly we hope that it won’t even be a concern.”