The National Hockey League officially suspended the 2019-20 season until further notice Thursday afternoon. Here is the official statement from Commissioner Gary Bettman:
“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.
“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.”
Just prior to that announcement, a Boston Bruins source told Boston Hockey Now that the Bruins players and all NHL players had been told to go home and not return to practices and their respective practice facilities until instructed otherwise. Earlier in the day, the Bruins and all NHL teams canceled all practices and game-day skates. The Bruins had been scheduled to play the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo Friday night and then host the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday.
There is no timetable for a return to game action or a plan for what happens if and when the league resumes but one NHL source told BHN Thursday morning that there was serious consideration being given to ending the regular season now and with the standings as they were Thursday. The plan would be to then play abbreviated first rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs and go from there when it is deemed safe to do so.
As of 2:30 PM ET Thursday, the Bruins had yet to make an official comment. It is not known if team personnel will be made available via phone or if pool quotes will be released for the media to use. This is a developing story that likely will remain that way for the foreseeable future. BHN will update as much as possible.