The National Hockey League is the latest organization to be hit hard by the continued spread of the coronavirus. After much speculation and multiple reports suggesting the rest of the NHL season was going to be suspended, the league has made it official. The suspension of play is set to take effect immediately, meaning that the ten games scheduled for Thursday have been canceled.
This comes just after the National Basketball Association similarly opted to suspend the rest of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus outbreak. Major League Soccer has also suspended its season for the next 30 days. The NHL had this to say about the decision in a 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 season beginning with tonight's games."
189 games remained on the NHL's schedule for the remainder of the season. The regular season was scheduled to conclude on April 4, with the Stanley Cup Playoffs set to begin the week of April 6. There is no word, at present, on when play might resume, but the coronavirus situation is evolving rapidly and becoming increasingly difficult to predict. Speaking further, the organization explained that, following the NBA's announcement, they had no other choice.
"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."
After emerging in China two months ago, the COVID-19 virus has spread across the globe. More than 130,000 cases have been reported, with the death toll nearing 5,000. Many industries have been taking precautions, with several major movie releases such as No Time to Die, A Quiet Place: Part II and Fast & Furious 9 all delayed significantly. Many major events such as SXSW, CinemaCon and E3 have been cancelled as well. The NHL says they intend to resume play as soon as possible.
"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."
While the number one concern is public health, the impact this is having on the entertainment industry cannot be understated. The outbreak has affected major sports, upcoming movie releases, future productions, the worldwide box office and more. We will be sure to keep you posted as further updates are made available. This news comes to us via NHL.com.