The NHL announced Wednesday that its season has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, commissioner Gary Bettman said “following last night’s news that an NBA player 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 player who Bettman is referring to is likely Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who tested positive for Covid-19 prior to a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night. That game was postponed just before tipoff, and the NBA announced later that night it would be suspending all games across the league.
NHL and NBA teams share 11 arenas. Given what we know about the coronavirus’ infection rate, it’s understandable why the NHL is being cautious. The Jazz have two players who have officially tested positive for Covid-19 in Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. The team had just finished a road stand that included trips to Madison Square Garden and TD Garden, where the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins play along with the NBA’s Knicks and Celtics.
In a statement, the NHLPA supported the NHL’s decision, calling it “an appropriate course of action at this time.”