I’m struggling to put words together for this piece.
The shock and awe of the coronavirus epidemic have people around the globe rightfully concerned, including your’s truly. There are those that feel all the measures around the sporting world to limit the epidemic — from the NCAA holding their upcoming winter tournaments without fans to the postponement of the Bruins’ 50th-anniversary celebration of the 1970 Stanley Cup-winning squad and the NBA suspending operations indefinitely — were an overreaction. They weren’t.
The National Hockey League followed the NBA’s lead after Rudy Gobert’s positive coronavirus diagnosis, announcing the suspension of its 2019-20 campaign on Thursday afternoon.
The NHL had no other choice.
“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,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement distributed to the media.
“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.”
The sporting leagues across the world affected by coronavirus — both amateur and professional — have no other options but to cancel or suspend operations.
Of course, the ramifications of coronavirus — also known as COVID-19 — go beyond the sporting world. Everyone takes a blow economically during this pandemic. The small business owners around sporting venues, arena workers and freelance media take the biggest brunt as they miss out on income following a hard night’s work.
Some people may have problems making ends meet as they live paycheck to paycheck. Yet, every person on earth, regardless of wealth or ethnicity, risks a chance of catching the contagious virus.
So yes, it’s disappointing to watch the sporting world take a hiatus for the time being. Because regardless of economics, these games provide an outlet of comfort and satisfaction whether watching the game at an arena or on television.
We don’t know if this season will go on. We know, though, that this adjustment period will feel even stranger following these chaotic 48 hours. And we’ll also have an adjustment period again if or when these sporting leagues across the world resume play.
As for the NHL going forward — if they resume play — timing is everything. They could immediately begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs upon returning or resume regular season play. The league reportedly asked teams to look into potential arena availability for July. That’s a story for another time, though.
We were supposed to embark on one of the busiest times in the sports calendar. The end of the NHL and NBA regular seasons and subsequent start of the playoffs, the beginning of the MLB 162-game slate, March Madness and The Masters. Instead, we’re all asking ourselves: what’s next.
Amidst all the questions and chaos surrounding this contagious epidemic, the safety of everyone involved remains the top priority. We’re all in this together in the attempt to contain the virus and listening to healthcare professionals is a must at this point.
With proper precautions and some luck, we’ll be back soon discussing the Bruins’ chances at a Stanley Cup and the league’s top storylines heading into the postseason. That’s our hope at Bruins Daily as we embark on these next few weeks together.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.