BOSTON (CBS) — On Wednesday night, the NBA abruptly announced that it would be suspending its season. On Thursday, the NHL is going to follow suit.
The NHL will be suspending its season amid concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” the league statement said. “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.”
Unlike the NBA, where Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus, the NHL does not yet have a player who’s known to currently be carrying the virus. Nevertheless, with many cities and states recommending a temporary restriction on large crowds and gatherings, the NHL is likely opting to take the safe route.
After Wednesday night’s news broke, the NHL released a statement, saying, “The NHL is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options.” The NHLPA also released a statement, saying, “We are in continuous contact with the NHL regarding the coronavirus and the recent announcement by the NBA. These discussions will continue [Thursday] morning, and we will consult with players before commenting further.”
Prior to the NBA’s announcement, two NHL teams — the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks — were planning on hosting games without fans in their arenas.
The adjustments made by professional sports leagues have progressed quickly throughout the week, beginning with restrictions on media access to players, moving on to decisions to play games without fans present, leading into the NBA’s and MLS’ decisions to suspend their seasons. It’s unknown at this point how long those suspensions will last.
The length of this current suspension cannot yet be known, but the league said it hopes that the season will resume and a Stanley Cup champion will be crowned.
“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,” the statement said. “Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.”