The National Hockey League announced on Thursday that they would suspend the remainder of their regular season indefinitely. The league also announced that they hope to resume in the future, but a timetable for returning to action was not included.
There were 10 games on the NHL schedule for Thursday, and those were the first games that were lost because of the announcement. The NHL Playoffs are scheduled to start in the middle of April, meaning there is just a little over three weeks until the regular season ends.
It is unclear whether or not the NHL would complete the regular-season schedule when they resume, or if they would go straight into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL has about a two-week window to extend the season before running the risk of poor ice conditions in the middle of June.
Shortening or modifying the Stanley Cup Playoffs is another option that is on the table.
The NHL announced that they were suspending their 2019-20 season less than 18 hours after the National Basketball Association shut down operations on Wednesday night. The NHL and NBA share many of the same arenas and venues throughout the country, and it only made sense to suspend operations until more information is available.
Two members of the Utah Jazz of the NBA have tested positive for the coronavirus, but no member of the NHL community has tested positive for the disease at the time of this announcement.
The NHL was extremely responsive and progressive in its attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The NHL was one of the first leagues to limit or restrict media personnel from entering their locker rooms, and they were also making plans to play games without fans.
Games in Columbus, Ohio, and San Jose, Calif., were to be played without fans through the rest of March, per orders from state and local government.
With the NHL currently suspending the remainder of the regular season, there is a chance that the Stanley Cup Playoffs could be wiped out completely. There have been two other seasons in which the Stanley Cup was not awarded, and one was for another pandemic.
The Spanish flu cost the 1918-19 NHL season from concluding, and the 2004-05 season had no champion due to a lockout.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly announced on March 2 that the league was looking into some contingency plans due to the fear of the coronavirus spreading. The hope was that these plans would never have to be put in place, but things changed in a hurry this week.
The NHL sent out a memo to their teams on Thursday, asking them to cancel their practices, morning skates, and team meetings. Word started to spread throughout the morning on Thursday that a work stoppage was inevitable.
Hockey leagues all over the world — especially in Europe — have already canceled the remainder of their seasons and their playoffs. USA Hockey also announced that they were suspending their junior league play, the USHL, and other local hockey organizations.
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