It's official, the NHL has suspended the 2019-20 season due to the international coronavirus pandemic. This news follows yesterday's announcement from the NBA.
Suffice it to say, this is a historic proclamation handed down by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Check it out:
Read below for the full explanation courtesy of the NHL's official website:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK (March 12, 2020) – National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman today released the following statement regarding the 2019-20 NHL season:
“In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019‑20 season beginning with tonight’s games.
“The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures. However, following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.
“We will continue to monitor all the appropriate medical advice, and we will encourage our players and other members of the NHL community to take all reasonable precautions – including by self-quarantine, where appropriate. Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.”
Stay tuned for more details on just exactly this will all play out, but obviously there are no NHL games on tap for this evening or in the near future.
Last night's game between the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets may be the last that we as hockey fans see for the duration of the 2019-20 season. After the game Oilers captain Connor McDavid was clearly in shock with the news of the NBA's season cancellation.
“We just heard, it’s still a little fresh and we haven’t had time to digest or anything,” McDavid said after his team lost 4-2 to the Jets.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate, but public health and safety is a priority and it’s more important than any sporting event right now. The NHL is going to review and they will make a decision whether or not to keep playing, but it’s out of our hands.”
Teammate Darnell Nurse echoed his captain's statements. “Obviously the suspension of a season … that stinks for anyone,” said Nurse. “But you’ve got to put public safety and public health ahead of everything. I think obviously it’s an unfortunate situation but sport and lives are two things that are very different and you’ve got to worry about one over the other.”
“It hits you so hard," said Oilers head coach Dave Tippet. "I guess we just wait for that meeting tomorrow and see the direction they want to go,” he said. “It’s obviously not just a sports thing, it is a life thing. We’ll just follow the directive of the NHL and the NHLPA. It is kind of unprecedented. We will read and react as it comes along.
“There is a feeling of bewilderment. You understand that this is a world health crisis, but we have never gone through anything like this and there has been nothing that has affected the game like this. You understand when you are going through lockouts and things like that, that there is a business part of the game, but this is a health part of the game, a life part of the game.
“It affects everybody, not just sports. It is a turbulent time in the world and we will just have to deal with it as it comes.”