NHL pauses season amid coronavirus concerns

"It is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time."

The NHL will provide an update on its plans on Thursday. Mark Humphrey

The NHL announced Thursday it would pause the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The league’s decision follows those of the NBA and MLS.

“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,” read a statement from the league. “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.”

The statement says the goal is “to resume play as soon is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup.”

The Bruins had six home games scheduled at TD Garden between Saturday and April 4. According to reports, the NHL asked teams to provide arena availability through the end of July.

The NHL advised teams to not hold practices, morning skates, or team meetings on Thursday morning.

The Bruins had scheduled an 11 a.m. practice at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was canceled just after 10 a.m.

The NHL said late Wednesday that it plans to provide an update on its response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.

An NHL statement read: “The National Hockey League is aware of the NBA’s decision tonight to indefinitely suspend its season due to a player testing positive for the coronavirus. The NHL is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options. We expect to have a further update tomorrow.”

Games in San Jose, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio, have already been reduced to essential staff only with no spectators.

The NHL Players’ Association said it was working with the league on a course of action.

“We are in continuous contact with the NHL regarding the coronavirus and the recent announcement by the NBA,” and NHLPA statement said. “These discussions will continue tomorrow morning, and we will consult with players before commenting further.”

The Bruins were scheduled to play Friday in Buffalo and Saturday at home vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ten NHL games were scheduled on Thursday.


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