The National Hockey League suspended its 2019-2020 regular season due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, the league announced Thursday. The suspension begins immediately, and games planned for Thursday night will be canceled, the league said.
The NHL said it made the decision following the NBA suspending its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus.
"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," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
The decision comes after a flurry of cancellations in the sports world, including of numerous collegiate events. Earlier Thursday, Major League Soccer announced the suspension of its season for 30 days due to the fast-spreading outbreak. Organizers also announced the PGA Tour will play without fans until at least April 5.
The NBA said it learned the unidentified Utah player tested positive shortly before the Oklahoma City Thunder was set to host the Jazz on Wednesday, a game that was canceled close to tipoff. Following the NBA's decision to suspend the season late Wednesday night, Bettman said it was best the NHL followed suit, especially since the two leagues "share so many facilities and locker rooms" throughout the year.
Bettman said there is concern "that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point." Before the Jazz arrived in Oklahoma City, the team made previous road trips to venues where both leagues play, including in New York, Boston and Detroit.
The NHL players union praised the league's decision, saying in a statement it's the "appropriate course of action at this time."
"The NHLPA will continue to closely monitor this very dynamic situation and remain in daily discussions with the league, our medical consultants, and our players regarding all aspects of this matter," the NHLPA said in its statement. "The players are looking forward to the opportunity to resume play in front of hockey fans everywhere."
Within the U.S., at least 1,300 coronavirus cases have been confirmed, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.