New York (AFP) – National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman halted the season on Thursday over concerns about the growing coronavirus outbreak.
The shutdown comes just over three weeks before the scheduled conclusion of the 2019-20 regular season and a day after the NBA shut down its season indefinitely after a player tested positive for coronavirus.
Many NBA and NHL clubs share home arenas and venue dressing rooms and other facilities at the venues.
“Given 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,” Bettman said.
The NHL joined a growing number of major North American sports leagues in halting games as a safety precaution to slo the spread of the virus.
Games were halted starting Thursday, with the first of those set to have been Pittsburgh at Columbus and played in front of no spectators after Ohio governor Mike DeWine ordered a ban on mass gatherings. The NHL Blue Jackets had been set to have spectators attend when the measure by DeWine was merely a recommendation.
“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 (club owners), the NHL is announcing that it will pause the 2019-20 season,” Bettman said in a statement.
“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 Stanley Cup went unclaimed in 2005 after the NHL season was wiped out by a labor dispute between club owners and players.
Before that, the trophy holders had not gone undecided since 1919 when the NHL champion Montreal Canadiens and Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast league had their finals series halted after five games due to a major Spanish flu outbreak that sickened several players on each club.
The current campaign was halted with the Boston Bruins owning the best record in the league at 44-14 with 12 overtime losses for 100 points.
The reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues own the best Western Conference record with 94 points on a 42-19-10 mark.
Source: Yahoo Sports