The NHL is following the NBA’s lead by suspending their season in the wake of the growing coronavirus threat.
As the threat of coronavirus continues to impact sports all over the world, the NHL is the latest league to take drastic action. The league released a statement announcing that the season would be put on pause for the foreseeable future.
“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 2019-20 season beginning with tonight’s games,” the league said in a statement (via Frank Seravalli of TSN).
Although the NHL didn’t make the official announcement until Thursday afternoon, this decision felt like an inevitability. Following the New York Rangers‘ overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, the team announced that they were not traveling to Arizona, but would stay in Denver until the league advised them on where to go next.
Coach Quinn begins his postgame comments with a statement: Given the fluidity of the current situation, the team will remain in Denver tonight and will proceed further after the NHL’s forthcoming statement.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 12, 2020
The next step in the process came when all NHL teams canceled practices, game-day morning skates, and team meetings on Thursday.
The third was a report that all NHL officials were told to book flights from wherever they were and go home.
Hearing that on-ice officials who are on the road now to work NHL games have been told to book flights home ….
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 12, 2020
The straw that broke the league’s back really had nothing to do with the NHL. On Wednesday night, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus and the NBA quickly announced that it would be putting the season on hiatus until further notice.
To make matters worse, Gobert’s teammate, Donovan Mitchell, also tested positive for the virus. The writing was on the wall once the world saw a professional athlete could contract the disease and spread it to others.