Today for the first time in a long time the NHL brass got a suspension right.
The difficult but correct decision to put NHL player, personnel and fan safety ahead of the almighty dollar may lead to only the second time in NHL history that the Stanley Cup is not awarded for reasons unrelated to a labour dispute. The first time was over a century ago in 1919. The Cup also went unclaimed in 2005 due to a lockout.
The day the NHL called off the NHL Stanley Cup championship in 1919 due to the Spanish Flu.— Mike Armstrong (@ArmstrongGN) March 12, 2020
Five Canadiens players were sick. Montreal tried to forfeit, but Seattle refused to accept. League cancelled the championship.
Habs D-man Joe Hall died 4 days later, buried in Vancouver pic.twitter.com/gV77lfwjzc
The NHL brain-trust has not yet ruled out continuing and completing the season and playoffs once the COVID-19 virus threat has been reduced or eliminated. But of course the future of the 2019/20 season is strongly in doubt as things stand currently.
But in Sweden, Nils Hoglander and his SHL Rogle club played against rival Malmo before a crowd-less arena.
Also in Finland, Petrus Palmu and his club suited up for a match against HIFK playing in an empty arena. Both players were undeterred by the unusual circumstances of their games today and each managed to light a goal lamp.
Nils Hoglander also set up Rogle’s 3-2 go-ahead goal in his club’s 5-2 victory over Malmo.
Many other professional leagues in Europe have postponed or cancelled their seasons already. It remains to be seen if the Liiga and SHL decision-makers will soon follow suit. The choice to play or not play is an evolving situation.
Hockey and the Coronavirus - A running list, all-too-frequently updated, on steps that various hockey leagues around the world are taking in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ll keep it as current as I can, and any heads-ups or similar notes... https://t.co/UkfW0fTi9v— Patrick C (@ChunkletsHockey) March 12, 2020
Meanwhile, the remaining two first round combatants in the KHL playoffs also battled today before an absent crowd. Canucks’ prospect Vasily Podkolzin and his SKA club swept their first round tussle 4-0 over Vityaz and were awaiting the identity of their second round opponent.
The KHL earlier today released the name of the opponent and it appears they currently intend to proceed forward with the Gagarin Cup playoffs.
The Jokerit club, which is based out of Finland, has already announced its second round home playoffs games will be crowd-less. It appears Russia-based SKA will also close its home arena to their fans.
One wonders when or if Finland, Sweden and Russia will decide to join most of the rest of the professional hockey world and also shut down their seasons and/or playoffs until it becomes safe again for their clubs’ personnel and players to soldier on.