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NHL suspends the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus outbreak; Winnipeg Jets season on pause

The 2019-20 season has been suspended by the NHL.

Empty Bell MTS Place

Photo Credit: Colby Spence

The first shoe dropped last night when the NBA announced they were suspending their season indefinitely.  The NHL later released a statement saying they were aware of this decision but were still consulting with medical experts, evaluating their options and that they would have an update the following day.

Which brings us to today.  The NHL has announced that they too are suspending the 2019-20 season indefinitely according to hockey insider Chris Johnston of Sportsnet who says “The NHL season has officially been suspended. No surprise. There is hope to resume.”

Here is the official statement from the NHL

“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.”

There has been a lot of talk about social distancing whereby you essentially avoid crowds.  Many NHL teams weren’t going to have a choice anyways as local governments in California and Ohio had already stated there couldn’t be large gatherings so the San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets would have played in front of empty arenas.  In a league that is still very much gate driven that would have been less than ideal.

Darren Dreger of TSN added this:

“More details on the NHL suspending play. No travel allowed. No meeting. No paractices. However, it’s a rapidly changing environment. For now it’s go home, go home and stay home until further notice.”

There are still plenty of question marks surrounding what will happen going forward but for now we know the 2019-20 NHL season is suspended or as they say “paused”.

Tough timing for local hockey fans as the Jets had won four straight games and were back in a playoff spot although based on points percentage they are on the outside looking in (by 0.01%).  However the benefits of trying to limit exposure will likely go a long way in limiting the amount of people who become infected with this virus.  The Jets were scheduled to have an off day in Alberta but instead they will return to Winnipeg.

As always stay tuned for the latest Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose news.