As we were expecting all morning, the NHL has officially suspended the 2019/20 season for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this point, there is no estimated timeline on how long this stoppage will last as the situation remains fluid and will likely change many times over the coming days and weeks.
As per someone on the Board of Governors call with the NHL, the season has officially been paused.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 12, 2020
As I wrote a little bit earlier this morning, it felt like the only possible outcome from today’s Board of Governor’s call was to press pause on the NHL season for the foreseeable future and that’s exactly what happened when the meeting wrapped up. After the NBA suspended their season last night, I just couldn’t see any scenario where the other major leagues wouldn’t follow suit. Now that we’re here, the next question revolves around what happens next? According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, there is hope that this suspension will be short term, but at this point, that’s purely speculative as we have no idea how this situation will play out or how long it will take for the virus to be contained.
“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.”
At this point, the overall timeline for what happens next is impossible to predict and all we can do is wait and see how this story evolves over the coming days and weeks. While the NHL said in their statement that they’re hoping to resume play as soon as they possibly can, we really have no idea when that will be or what that will even look like when it does happen. This whole situation is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before and it’s going to take some time before we fully realize how this situation will progress. All we know for sure is that we’re moving through uncharted waters with no available playbook, and suspending the season was the only possible outcome when thinking of the greater good.
While this news is obviously disappointing for hockey fans everywhere, it’s much more important to think of the overall safety of society at large and I was happy to see that the league made the right choice. Right now, sports take a backseat in terms of what actually matters in life and this suspension is a clear result of that fact. Again, I’m not nearly smart enough to know what this means for the 2019/20 season, the playoffs, or when we’ll be able to watch hockey again, but I do know that this pause is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before and that’s a strange feeling. Even writing this release feels odd because I don’t have much information to offer that wouldn’t be pure guesswork, so all I can do is report the facts as they come up while also hoping that we can all stay safe and take care of each other.