ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The NHL announced it is temporarily suspending its season due to COVID-19 concerns.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement saying:
"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 was following health expert mandates and preparing for any possible developments while avoiding taking premature or unnecessary measures, according to the released statement.
Bettman said that the decision comes after the news of an NBA player testing positive for the coronavirus.
"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," Bettman said. Calling it no longer appropriate to continue to play games.
This announcement comes after the NHL urged players earlier this month to limit fan contact. They also advised teams to not hold morning skates, practice or hold team meetings today.
Concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have necessitated cancellations and postponements all around the sports world.
College basketball tournaments have been canceled all around the country.
The NBA now has two players who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to reports.
And now hockey has followed the lead of other leagues and organizations, suspending play to help curtail the spread of the new coronavirus.
The NHL's goal is to resume play as soon as it is "deemed appropriate" so that they can complete their season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, the leagues thanked fans for their patience.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were set to play tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Lightning released the following statement:
"This afternoon, the National Hockey League, after a meeting of its Board of Governors, announced it would pause the 2019-20 season due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus. As a member club, the Tampa Bay Lightning will not be playing games until the NHL, along with government and health officials, decide the timing is right to return to the ice. This is obviously a tough and disappointing decision for everyone, but one that is appropriate to prioritize the safety of our fans, partners, players and staff. The team will continue to work in consultation with the NHL, as well as with city and county representatives, to monitor the situation moving forward. The Lightning will be making additional announcements, including regarding ticket information, as details become available."
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