The National Hockey League has just announced that the regular NHL season is suspended "until further notice" as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads. This means that the Montreal Canadiens will not play any hockey games for the time being. Around the league, reports indicated that the NHL was preparing for this decision by cancelling team practices and that on-ice officials were sent home.
Other sports leagues such as the NBA and the MLS have postponed their seasons until further notice, as well. The MLB, the ATP (pro tennis), and U.S. college sports also cancelled or postponed events. According to reports, the PGA Tour will proceed with its summer events but will play in front of no fans. As for the NFL, there are reports that teams are considering shutting down their practice facilities.
In Quebec, the government installed a ban on indoor public gatherings of over 250 people. Shortly after, the NHL decided to suspend the season outright.
As it stands, the NHL hopes that it can proceed with the season after they evaluate the current situation.
"Our goal is to resume play as soon as it's 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," wrote the NHL in an official statement.
In an official statement, the Montreal Canadiens wrote that "the Canadiens support this decision, which is focused on controlling the risk of spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19)."
"We take the health and safety of our fans very seriously, and the same standard applies to our players, team personnel and employees."
The NHL pauses the 2019-20 season. https://t.co/bCi776ZFqX— NHL (@NHL) 1584034584.0
"Ticket holders are invited to keep their tickets. They will be contacted at a later date with further details as events unfold."
Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic wrote that the NHL made "the right decision" in regards to postponing the rest of the season.
After the NBA, one of the most profitable pro sports leagues in North America cancelled its season, other major pro sports followed suit.
I would have done anything to be a fly on the wall listening to the conversation where the decision was made for th… https://t.co/shVPdN7ItC— Arpon Basu (@Arpon Basu) 1584037913.0
The financial impacts of this postponement will be highly felt by NHL executives should the playoffs be cancelled as well.
LeBrun wrote that "people love sports because it gives them an outlet from the rigours of our everyday life. Having the NHL and NBA seasons suspended is a stark reminder of the real-life threat upon us now."
No NHL players have tested positive for coronavirus.
Stay tuned for more updates on COVID-19 in Montreal right here on MTL Blog.