NHL Suspends Play Due to Coronavirus
While the NHL suspended play on Thursday due to the coronavirus, the league also intends on finishing its regular season at some point. Whether or not the league will have a shortened regular season and/or postseason has not been determined.
There are 189 games and 3 ½ weeks remaining in the NHL’s regular season and there’s some discussion about shortening the rest of the regular season and perhaps the first round of the Stanley Cup postseason.
In a statement issued Thursday, the NHL said that "it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time" following news out of the NBA that Rudy Gobert, a player on the Utah Jazz, tested positive for the coronavirus. The NBA decided Wednesday night to suspend its season.
On Thursday morning, NHL teams had instructed players to stay home. By Thursday afternoon, league commissioner Gary Bettman conferred with the board of governors before announcing the suspension of the season.
"For the last couple of weeks, we've been monitoring what's been going on," Bettman told CNBC on Thursday night. "We went from dealing with things on a day-to-day basis to an hour-by-hour basis, and then it was in minutes. We were constantly evolving our strategy about our teams playing or not playing. But last night, when the NBA had a positive test, and they had to cancel a game at that moment, it was clear to me -- and through all of our calculus, we knew -- that once a player tested positive it would be a game-changer. I decided to get ahead of it.
"In all likelihood, we weren't going to get through the rest of the season without a player testing positive. Particularly because the Utah Jazz had used locker rooms within 24 hours of our teams using the same locker rooms in buildings that we share with the NBA. I just decided that instead of waiting for it to happen, to just get ahead of it."
Also on Thursday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that the league would reevaluate whether or not to resume play after “at least 30 days.” Whether or not the NHL will follow suit on that same one-month play is not known at this time.