As expected, the NHL has announced the suspension of play due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The decision was made about 16 hours after the NBA announced the suspension of play for a minimum of 30 days. Several European leagues also cancelled play in the post-season, while numerous other public and private gatherings were cancelled.
With less than four weeks until the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it now seems incredibly likely that the NHL’s post-season is in jeopardy as well. The league did formally call it a “pause,” but there’s no telling what that entails or if the NHL is being hopelessly optimistic.
“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,” the NHL 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.”
These are, as has been said many times, uncharted waters and this situation puts our little hockey blog in perspective. But the league really had no choice as far as this goes, especially as we know so little about the spread of COVID-19.
“The decision to temporarily suspend play due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an appropriate course of action at this time,” the NHL Players’ Association said in a statement. “The NHLPA will continue to closely monitor this very dynamic situation and remain in daily discussions with the league, our medical consultants, and our players regarding all aspects of this matter. The players are looking forward to the opportunity to resume play in front of hockey fans everywhere.”
There is a thin sliver of hope for a version of the playoffs, perhaps even if hockey continues into the summer. But again, that depends on the spread of coronavirus and the efforts to contain this pandemic.
So with that in mind, we turn our attention to the season that was and the playoffs that might never be. The Boston Bruins are atop the NHL standings right now, with the St. Louis Blues the defending champs. Leon Draisaitl is the league’s leading scorer and Tuukka Rask is the best goaltender. Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes leads all rookies in points and John Carlson seems in line to win the Norris Trophy.
But, more importantly, take care of yourselves and your families. We wish you all the best and we’ll continue to track this story and discuss the world’s greatest game in the meantime. Thank you for reading.
Photo credit: NHL.com