With confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN the league is “exploring contingency plans” for the playoffs and next year’s potential games overseas.
But Daly seemed optimistic about not having to cancel games for the postseason, which begins in April.
“I think it’s very unlikely — knock on wood, I’m hopeful — that we would progress to a stage where we have to consider something that dramatic,” he said, per ESPN’s Emily Kaplan. “But certainly everything is possible, and we have to look at all possible contingencies. If it gets to that point, we will be ready.”
The NHL twice has begun its season in China in 2017 and 2018. And while nothing official was planned for 2021, Daly now believes the outbreak of the coronavirus will make that potential all the more unlikely.
“We haven’t announced anything,” he said. “But it is unlikely we will play games in China next season, in part because of this (health crisis).”
According to Kaplan, the league sent a memo to each team “which, among other things, advised best practices, such as frequent hand washing for players and staff.”
Daly added there’s no hard deadline on a decision pertaining to the cancellation of playoff games, noting it’s “totally situation specific.”