The NHL has decided to put its season on hold, joining the NBA, MLS and several other professional and college sports leagues as the coronavirus continues to rock the sports world.
The NHL reached the decision on Thursday afternoon on a conference call with commissioner Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors.
Per Emily Kaplan of ESPN, the league still hopes it can resume play this spring.
The decision seemed inevitable, as the league halted workouts and meetings and advised referees on the road to book flights home.
Many NHL and NBA teams share arenas as well, and Utah Jazz have at least two players who tested positive for COVID-19. The league said this played a significant factor in its decision.
"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," the NHL said in a statement. "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."
The NHL had already prepared to play games in select cities without fans due to orders from local government.
Hockey leagues in Europe, as well as USA Hockey's junior league, the USHL, have cancelled playoffs, but the NHL remains hopeful it will not come to that.
Only twice in league history has the NHL not played the Stanley Cup Final — in 1918 due to the Spanish Flu outbreak, and in 2004-05 due to a lockout.