The NHL has followed the NBA's lead by suspending games across the league indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak. No timetable has been set for when the contests may resume.
“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 league said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
“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.
A previous version of this video incorrectly stated how many people the 1918 Spanish influenza killed.
“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.”
The league had announced Wednesday night it would consult with medical experts in the wake of the NBA's decision, which occurred after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert received a preliminary positive test for coronavirus. Unlike in the NBA, no NHL player has tested positive for coronavirus.
Coronavirus, scientifically known as COVID-19, has infected more than 1,300 individuals in the U.S., resulting in 39 deaths as of Thursday afternoon. Health experts have called for large gatherings to be limited.
The NHL had not played games on four other occasions, but that was because of labor disputes: a 1992 strike and lockouts in 1995, 2004 and 2012. The 2004 lockout cost the league an entire season.
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The 1919 Stanley Cup was not awarded because the series between the NHL champion Montreal Canadiens and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association champion Seattle Metropolitans was called off after five games because of the Spanish influenza epidemic.
The @NHL pauses 2019-20 season. https://t.co/WMePei4clHpic.twitter.com/W5Hqmk3kX7
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