NHL Suspends 2020 Season

NHL Suspends 2020 Season
MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 15: General view from the upper level during the NHL game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre on October 15, 2018 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings 7-3. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

According to a report, the NHL suspends 2020 season over concerns caused by the coronavirus. It isn’t official yet, however, multiple sources have said similar things and there have been reports of officials being told to go home.

NHL Suspends 2020 Season

Following the NBA, who suspended the rest of their season, because Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, the NHL suspends 2020 season for now. However, things change on a minute-to-minute basis. You have to imagine by the weekend, the league will suspend play. Currently, the league will not have fans in attendance when the San Jose Sharks take to the ice on March 19th. Also, the Columbus Blue Jackets played in an empty arena on Thursday, March 12th. The New Jersey Devils put out a letter to its fan base telling those who are sick and have underlying issues to stay home.

NHL Official Statement

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman today released the following statement regarding the 2019-20 NHL season:

“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 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. 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.

“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. 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. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.”

NHLPA Statement

The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has issued the following statement:

“The decision to temporarily suspend play due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an appropriate course of action at this time. 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.”

Going Forward

With the NHL being the most gate-driven league out of the major sports, you have to wonder how the salary-cap will be affected. There will be a short term and long term effect on the cap. The short term is this season, the long term is next season and beyond. If the league does not play for several weeks there could be a loss in hockey-related revenue. With the players already not a fan of escrow, the league may ask the players to dive into their pockets a little more.

The league determines the salary cap is a projection of the players’ share of the 50-50 split of hockey-related with owners. Total NHL revenue is estimated for this season to be in excess of $5 billion (US). If the season is suspended for the coronavirus, there could be a significant loss in revenue. The players will be responsible for a rebate to ensure a 50-50 split. As of now, the owners have not asked the players to increase escrow, but that could change in light of what is going on.

Next Steps

Not only is the regular season affected but the Stanley Cup Playoffs as well. Even if the league returns, the playoffs will be pushed back. This is similar to what happened during the 1994-95 and 2012-13 lockouts. Say the league plays into the summer, what does that do for the start of next season.

Similar to what is going on in the NBA, the NHL is looking to resume their schedule once the coronavirus passes. Teams have been asked to provide availability through the end of July in case the league is out for a month or longer.

The last time the NHL did not award the Stanley Cup because of illness was the 1919 Stanley Cup Final. The series was stopped after five games after an outbreak of Spanish flu.

International Hockey

Hockey leagues all over the world are suspending their seasons. From Germany to Switzerland and everyone in between because of the coronavirus. These leagues are not taking any chances when it comes to the coronavirus.

The International Ice Hockey Federation has already cancelled the Women’s World Hockey Championships. Before that, the Federation announced the cancellation of six March tournaments. The next big events for them are the U18 World Championships in Plymouth and Ann Arbor, Michigan in April. Following that is the IIHF Men’s World Championships in May taking place in Switzerland.

The IIHF will continue to have meetings to determine their fates. With the way things are trending, those events most likely will be cancelled.

Keep your eyes tuned into to the Last Word on Hockey for the latest developments.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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