One day after the top Swedish league, the SHL, requested, along with its member organizations, that the Swedish Ice Hockey Association cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season, the sport’s governing body in Sweden has come down with decisive action that has ended campaigns in each major competition effective immediately.
In a release, the Swedish Ice Hockey Association said that situation surrounding the spread of coronavirus has made it such that the Board of Directors has unanimously decided to end the 2019-20 season, cancelling all games remaining in the first-tier SHL, second-tier Allsvenskan and third-tier Hockeyettan, as well as the SDHL, which is one of the premier women’s circuits in the world. Included is all post-season action and qualifying games.
“The coronavirus creates great concern and uncertainty throughout society,” Swedish Ice Hockey Association chairman Anders Larsson said in a statement. “For us, the most important thing right now is to do what we can for society at large, but also to put health first for players, leaders, officials and the public. In recent days, we have had a close dialogue with the league organizations concerned about how to handle the resulting situation, but also in relation to Swedish ice hockey's competition and series regulations.”
As a result of the cancellation, Sweden will not have a champion in its top men’s circuit for the first time since 1952, when no champion was crowned in the interest of Olympic preparation. Sweden also had no top-flight winner in 1949 and 1939, the former the result of World Championship preparation. However, the impact stretches beyond this season’s championship. As a result of the abrupt end to the season, the Swedish Ice Hockey Association announced that there will be no relegation or promotion. As such, teams at the bottom of the table in the SHL will remain in the league next season with no threat of demotion to Allsvenskan.
In the SDHL, the cancellation comes after the first game of the final had been played. After both teams swept their way to the final, top-seeded HV71 had a 1-0 series lead on second-seeded Lulea.
Previously, the SHL and related men's competitions had pushed back the beginning of their post-season. The SDHL continued to play through last Wednesday. Friday's contest was postponed and Game Three of the final was slated for Sunday.
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