The National Hockey League on Thursday announced it was pausing its 2019-20 season due to concerns about coronavirus spread.
In a statement, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the decision was influenced, in part, by the positive coronavirus test of an NBA player, prompting that league to halt its season on Wednesday.
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“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,” Bettman said in the release.
“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 [Wednesday] 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 NHL is the latest sports league to announce it would either no longer play games, or will play without fans in attendance.
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Locally, on Thursday, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced there would be no general admission to this weekend’s St. Petersburg Grand Prix, and no fans will be permitted at University of South Florida home contests and the PGA’s Valspar Championship next week at Innisbrook Resort.
The cancellations for the Tampa Bay Lightning begin tonight with its scheduled game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Amalie Arena. The Lightning had 12 games remaining in the regular season.
“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,” Bettman said in the release. “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.”