NEW YORK, N.Y. (WDEF) — The NHL decided to pause the 2019-2020 regular season due to the concerns of the coronavirus.
The NHL had 189 games remaining, including 10 scheduled for Thursday. The regular season was scheduled to end April 4, with the Stanley Cup Playoffs starting the week of April 6.
Before the NHL put the season on pause, the Columbus Blue Jackets were scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nationwide Arena on Thursday without fans in response to an order banning mass gatherings in Ohio. The San Jose Sharks, responding to a similar ban in Santa Clara County in California, were planning to play their remaining home games this month without fans at SAP Center.
Gary Bettman, the NHL Commissioner, released the following statement:
“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.”