Could NHL Playoffs Be Cancelled Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak?by Yehuda Schwartz March 12, 2020 0 comments
While the NHL has not taken any official immediate action yet to prepare for the upcoming threat of coronavirus, they have been monitoring the situation closely. They are prepared to do anything in their power to stop the spread of this dangerous infection.
Included in that is the possibility of the cancellation of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which are due to start on Wednesday, April 8. While it seems like a far-fetched idea to cancel the most-beloved and exciting aspect of the NHL, it may have to be done to contain the virus.
The league, headed by commissioner Gary Bettman, has already decided to ban league officials from traveling overseas. That includes Europe and China, two locations that have been hit the worst, with a large majority of the 92,000 worldwide COVID-19 cases occurring there.
Hockey fans are increasingly worried about the consequences of the virus because it can potentially ruin the playoffs this year in a big way. It seems, for now, that individual teams such as the San Jose Sharks have banned people from going to home games. There is a possibility of broadcast games to have fans superimposed into the stands so broadcasts feel like a real game. That would make for quite the playoffs with no fans at the game and fake fans on your screen at home.
On the flip side, this would be a memorable moment that hockey fans around the world won’t soon forget. Each NHL team is allowed to make their own decision regarding the issue, but not surprisingly, European scouting has nearly ground to a halt. The International Ice Hockey Federation decided to cancel the upcoming under-18 tournaments in March. They will wait and see the situation regarding the World Championship and will come to a decision by March 15.
What started off as a minor threat is now incredibly serious as the virus starts to hit North America. Bettman is constantly in touch with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as Health Canada. He is also in constant communication with all 31 NHL teams as well as the group with the 32nd team in Seattle. (There has been nothing announced yet regarding Seattle’s expansion draft, as it is much too far in the future to worry about now.)
The most likely outcome from all of this is that the playoffs will continue as planned but there will be no fans allowed at the game, which is disappointing for people who were planning on being at their respective teams’ playoff matches.