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NHL ‘pausing’ season due to coronavirus

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Columbus Blue Jackets head athletic trainer Mike Vogt, left, kneels and checks on Elvis Merzlikins (90), of Latvia, after Merzlikins was injured during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Ottawa Senators, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

(WCMH) — The National Hockey League announced Thursday it is suspending the season.

The league said in a statement:

“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.”

Locally, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced Wednesday that games would proceed without fans in the arena. This announcement overrides that. The Blue Jackets initially resisted calls to exclude fans from games, but changed course after Governor DeWine said he would issue an order making it mandatory.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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