The NHL said Thursday is was suspending the 2019-20 season amid COVID-19 concerns.
In a statement, Commissioner Gary Bettman said the move comes as a result of a NBA player testing positive for the coronavirus.
“Given that our leagues share so many facilities and local 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 and continue to play games at this time,” he said.
The @NHL pauses 2019-20 season. https://t.co/WMePei4clH pic.twitter.com/W5Hqmk3kX7
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 12, 2020
There were 10 games on Thursday’s NHL schedule, including matchups in Montreal, Toronto and Calgary.
If the NHL is eventually forced to go a step further and cancel the 2019-20 season and playoffs, it would mark the third time in its history the Stanley Cup hasn’t been awarded.
The Spanish flu forced the cancellation of the 1919 Cup final, while the entire 2004-05 campaign was lost to a lockout.
In a statement, the NHL Players’ Association said the season’s suspension was an “appropriate” measure amid the pandemic.
The NHL is not the first major sports league to suspend its season. Major League Soccer announced the suspension Thursday, while the NBA announced it Wednesday night, after at least one Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19.
The Major Baseball League also postponed its season indefinitely on Thursday, and the Canadian Football league cancelled its regional and national combine.
In Canada, more than 100 people have now tested positive for COVID-19, including a baby boy in Ontario Thursday. Ontario has the most cases at 42, with B.C. at 39, Alberta at 14 and Quebec at seven.
However, health officials said the risk to Canadians remains low. One person, a care home resident in North Vancouver, has died so far in Canada.
Globally, there have been 118,322 confirmed cases and 4,292 deaths, the majority of them in China. The World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus a pandemic on Wednesday.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.