Coronavirus concerns force NHL to suspend 2019-20 regular season


Updated: 3:35 p.m.

Following consultation Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the NHL has decided to suspend its 2019-20 regular season indefinitely amid the rising concerns of the coronavirus outbreak.

The league hopes to eventually finish the regular season and hold the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

“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.”

Coronavirus in sports: Full, updated list of cancellations, suspensions 

The Stanley Cup Playoffs were originally scheduled to begin April 8.

On Thursday, the NHL players' association released the following statement:

On Wednesday night, the NBA stunned the sports world by abruptly putting a halt to its regular season.

The Flyers traveled to Tampa Bay, Florida, Wednesday afternoon and were scheduled to play the Lightning Thursday night. The Flyers are expected to fly home Friday.

The Wells Fargo Center had a big weekend ahead with back-to-back Flyers games — Saturday against the Wild and Sunday vs. the Oilers. On Thursday, the arena closed for cleaning.

Comcast Spectacor released the following statement Thursday regarding events at the Wells Fargo Center:

“In light of recent announcements made today, all Philadelphia Flyers, 76ers and Wings games scheduled for the Wells Fargo Center are postponed until further notice. All other events scheduled through March 31 will be rescheduled.

"We recognize that fans and event-goers will have questions regarding their ticket purchases. We are asking fans to hold their tickets as we determine plans to reschedule events. We thank our fans for their patience and understanding during this time. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will share information as it becomes available.”

On Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers hosted the Bruins. The official listed attendance was 19,689. Prior to puck drop, the Flyers released a statement about the game being played as scheduled. On Wednesday, the Sixers hosted the Pistons before the NBA suspended its regular season later that night in wake of the news that Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.

The Flyers, who are in second place of the Metropolitan Division and one point behind the first-place Capitals with 13 games to play, were set to wrap up the regular season April 4 against the Sabres in Buffalo. They entered Thursday with a 99.4 percent chance to make the playoffs, 28.8 percent chance to win the Metro and projected to finish with 104 to 105 points, according to The Flyers haven't finished with 100-plus points since 2011-12, when the club last won a postseason series.

Along with the NHL, the AHL has also suspended its 2019-20 season.

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