Gary Bettman Doesn't Know How Long NHL Will Be Suspended Amid Coronavirus

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2020

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media before Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins, Monday, May 27, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is unsure how long the league will be suspended amid concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus.

According to NHL.com's Nick Cotsonika, Bettman said the following Friday about the NHL's decision to suspend operations Thursday:

"Nobody knows how long the hiatus may be. Nobody, even the medical community, can predict it with certainty. And what we're doing is, we're modeling every conceivable alternative so that when it's appropriate to go back to work, we will know what our options ... are.

"This isn't an independent determination. We're going to have to rely on others as to when it's safe, which is why people can speculate but nobody can predict with certainty."

The NHL followed the NBA's lead in suspending its season, while the NCAA announced Thursday that the men's and women's basketball tournaments would be canceled.

Most of the sports world has postponed or canceled events due to the coronavirus pandemic. Per the World Health Organization, there are over 132,000 known cases of COVID-19 worldwide and nearly 5,000 deaths as a result. There are also more than 1,200 known cases of the new coronavirus in the United States and more than 130 in Canada.

The NHL released the following statement Thursday, signaling the suspension of the 2019-20 season:


The NHL pauses the 2019-20 season. https://t.co/bCi776ZFqX

Every NHL team had 13 or fewer games remaining on their regular-season schedule, and the regular season was set to end on April 4 with the Stanley Cup playoffs starting shortly thereafter.

Canceling the remainder of the season is a possibility, but if play does resume, it is unclear if the regular season will be finished or shortened in some way before proceeding to the playoffs.

Bettman appeared on CNBC (h/t Cotsonika) on Thursday and said "our hope and our expectation" is that the season will resume at some point.

According to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said his league's suspension is likely to last at least 30 days before revisiting the situation. The NBA had a pair of players—Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and guard Donovan Mitchell—test positive for COVID-19.

The NHL has not provided a timetable for when the league may resume play or when Bettman and other league officials will re-evaluate the landscape.