Skip to main content

Timeline: How the coronavirus outbreak has rocked the hockey world

The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in cancellations and postponements throughout professional leagues across the globe and stricken major competitions from the hockey calendar.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Amid the continued outbreak of coronavirus, major national leagues and international competitions have taken various measures and precautions to prevent further spread of the virus and protect the safety of the athletes, personnel and public. Find below a timeline of events in reaction to the coronavirus outbreak from across the hockey world, dating back to the International Ice Hockey Federation's decision to cancel four Challenge Cup of Asia events on Jan. 31:

March 18, 2020

• After suspending its season on March 12, the USHL has announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 season. “This decision was not an easy one to make, but was a necessity in order to keep our athletes, staffs and fans in all 16 of our communities safe amid this international health risk,” USHL commissioner Tom Garrity said in a statement. [More]

• The KHL has postponed its post-season, but top Western Conference seed Ak Bars Kazan is asking the league to cancel the remainder of the playoffs and crown no champion. The organization said international players have requested to return home and the team has "no moral right to refuse them." [More]

• The Ottawa Senators announced that a player has tested positive for COVID-19. He is in isolation and has mild symptoms. [More]

• The WHL followed in the footsteps of the QMJHL, becoming the second major junior organization to cancel the regular season. The Portland Winterhawks finish in first place, with the status of the playoffs unknown. [More]

March 17, 2020

• The QMJHL has announced the cancellation of its regular season. It is the first Canadian major junior league to cancel its regular season. The standings for the post-season, should they be played, will be determined by points percentage. [More]

• Strike the men's World Championship Div. I Group A and Group B tournaments from the calendar. The IIHF announced Tuesday both events have been cancelled, but there is still no decision from the governing body on the top-level World Championship. “The stakeholders openly discussed what has become a very complex situation with the coronavirus, which is affecting many countries as well as participating teams and various other stakeholders of the World Championship," IIHF president Rene Fasel said in a statement. [More]

• After stating earlier that it was primed to take a one-week hiatus from the post-season, the KHL has announced that it will postpone its season until April 10. Previously, two teams that had advanced to the second round of the Gagarin Cup playoffs, Jokerit Helsinki and Barys Nur-Sultan, voluntarily withdrew from the post-season. The timeline for a return to play gives the KHL a small window to complete its season as pending free agents will see their contracts expire on April 30. [More]

March 16, 2020

• The AHL released a statement advising clubs that the league would not return from the indefinite suspension before May. Team had just over a dozen games remaining before the post-season was set to begin in mid-April. [More]

• With the news that Jokerit Helsinki and Barys Nur-Sultan pulling out of the post-season, the KHL has elected to move ahead with a six-team format following a week suspension. The KHL remains as the biggest league still actively playing. [More]

• The NAHL, a junior league based in the United States, has cancelled the remainder of the season and post-season. The playoffs were set to begin in early April. [More]

March 15, 2020

• Swiss team EHC Biel reported Sunday that coach Antti Tormanen has tested positive for coronavirus. The 49-year-old, who played 50 games with the Ottawa Senators during the 1995-96 campaign, has coached Biel for the past three seasons. According to a team release, Tormanen is quarantined per doctor's orders and is doing well. [More]

• The SPHL's Board of Governors has voted unanimously to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season. In a statement, commissioner Doug Price said the current coronavirus outbreak is "bigger than hockey and bigger than sports." [More]

• The ECHL followed the NHL's lead and suspended its season amid the coronavirus outbreak, but with uncertainty about return to action, the ECHL has gone one step further and cancelled the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign. [More]

• The Swedish Ice Hockey Association has cancelled the remainder of the SHL, Allsvenskan and Hockeyettan seasons. Additionally, the SDHL final has been cancelled following Game 1. Game 2 was postponed and Game 3 was set to be played Sunday. [More]

March 14, 2020

• After following the NHL's lead and suspending play, the ECHL announced Sunday that the balance of the 2019-20 season has been cancelled. In a lengthy statement, ECHL commissioner Ryan Crelin said it is an emotional time and the decision did not come lightly. "At this point in the Season, there has been immense dedication and countless hours committed in moving towards what is traditionally the most exciting part of the hockey year. With that said however, as each passing day raises additional concerns for the safety of those in the ECHL community and as we take precautionary measures in conjunction with our local authorities across the continent to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it has become apparent that this is the prudent decision."

• The SHL has requested that the Swedish Ice Hockey Association cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season. [More]

• The KHL's Jokerit Helsinki has voluntarily withdrawn from the Gagarin Cup playoffs. Jokerit was set to kick off its second-round series against SKA St. Petersburg early next week. [More]

March 13, 2020

• The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced Friday that playoffs in all 10 of its leagues have been cancelled. The impacted leagues include: the AJHL, BCHL, CCHL, LHJAAAQ, MJHL, MHL, NOJHL, OJHL, SJHL and SIJHL. "We continue to align our direction, consistent with that of Hockey Canada, and support their overall direction completely," CJHL President Brent Ladds said in a statement. “We extend our extreme gratitude, understanding and commend the due diligence put forth by the CJHL’s Executive Board, each of our 10 league commissioners/presidents, their staffs and respective clubs and Hockey Canada in their commitment to safeguard all those involved in our wonderful game." [More]

• The top Finnish League, Liiga, announced Friday that the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign, beginning with Saturday's games and continuing on throughout the entire post-season, has been cancelled. As such, a Finnish champion will not be crowned for the first time since the 1943-44 as a result of conflicts related to World War II. Berths into the Champions League and Spengler Cup will be determined by the standings as of Friday. [More]

• According to the IIHF, a conference call will be held Tuesday to determine the status of the men's World Championship, which is currently slated to be held in April and May in Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland. [More]

• Four more major intentional competitions have been stricken from the schedule. The IIHF announced Friday that the following tournaments have been cancelled: World Championship Division II, Group A in Croatia, Zagreb; World Championship Division II, Group B in Iceland, Reykjavik; World Championship Division III, Group A in Luxembourg, Kockelscheuer; World Championship Division III, Group B in South Africa, Cape Town. [More]

• The United Kingdom's EIHL, which was one of few major leagues still in operation entering Friday, has announced the cancellation of the remainder of its season. In a statement, the league said it held an emergency conference call to consider next steps, but in the time since "two teams have now reported they have players in self-isolation purely as a precaution but the health and safety of our fans, players and staff has to be paramount." [More]

March 12, 2020

• In a statement, Hockey Canada announced it has made the decision to cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities due to concerns surrounding the outbreak. Per the statement: "After much consultation with the Hockey Canada membership, our chief medical officer and public health officials, the Hockey Canada Board of Directors has made the decision to cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities, including our national championships, until further notice, effective Friday, March 13, 2020."

• The NCAA has announced that remaining winter and spring championships have been cancelled. This marks the first time in the history of the men's and women's national championship tournaments that a winner will not be crowned. The men's tournament was slated to be played in Detroit. The women's tournament was scheduled to be played in Boston. [More]

• The ECHL announced it has suspended its season. "As the on-going developments regarding COVID-19 in North America continue and precautionary measures ensue to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the ECHL has suspended the 2019-20 Season for the safety of our Fans, Players and Employees." [More]

• The USHL has suspended its season. "All hockey activities, including practices, workouts and meetings have also been been suspended until further notice. The league continues to closely monitor the situation and will use this hiatus to determine next steps regarding the 2019-20 season."

• The NAHL has paused its regular season. “This is an unprecedented time and situation. First and foremost, we want to be sure we are doing what is best for the hockey community: players, teams, fans, and officials. In the past 24 hours, it became clear that we needed to follow a path that was consistent with what has transpired in the hockey world, particularly with our partners at USA Hockey, the NCAA, the NHL and the USHL.” [More]

• The SPHL suspended play effective immediately. The league expects to update the situation. "The SPHL and its member teams will continue to monitor developments over the weekend and provide an update on the 2019-2020 season in the near future." [More]

• Following the NHL's lead, the AHL announced the suspension of play "until further notice." [More]

• The CHL announced that all hockey activities across its three leagues, the WHL, OHL and QMJHL, will be paused effective immediately. [More]

• The NHL has announced it will “pause” the 2019-20 campaign with the goal of resuming and completing the campaign. Said commissioner Gary Bettman: “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.” [More]

• In a statement, the NHL Players’ Association called the temporary suspension of play an “appropriate course of action.” The statement continued: “The NHLPA will continue to closely monitor this very dynamic situation and remain in daily discussions with the league, our medical consultants, and our players regarding all aspects of this matter. The players are looking forward to the opportunity to resume play in front of hockey fans everywhere.” [More]

• With the NWHL’s Isobel Cup final slated for March 13, the league announced it has postponed the game in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Despite the postponement, the league stated it is “determined to present the Isobel Cup final that the Pride, Whitecaps and the fans deserve.” [More]

• Switzerland’s top leagues have cancelled the remainder of their respective campaigns, and the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation announced the additional cancellations of the remainder of the campaigns in U20 and U17 leagues, as well as the women’s league, senior leagues and youth leagues. [More]

• The KHL announced that the final opening-round playoff game between Spartak Moscow and Dynamo Moscow was to be played to an empty arena. [More]

• Sweden’s SHL will postpone its playoffs until March 24. All best-of-seven series will become best-of-fives. [More]

• The Finnish Ice Hockey Association is expected to make an announcement regarding next steps Thursday evening. [More]

• The Czech League has postponed play until March 29. [More]

• The Danish League has cancelled the remainder of its season. [More]

March 11, 2020

• The NBA announced the suspension of its season, prompting the NHL to release a statement indicating it was evaluating its options and would release further update March 12. [More]

• Bans on mass gatherings in Columbus and San Jose resulted in the Blue Jackets announcing remaining home games would be played in empty arenas. The Sharks announced games through March 31 would not be open to non-essential personnel. [More]

• The Norwegian League, Polish League and Slovakian League have cancelled their seasons. [More]

March 10, 2020

• Germany’s top leagues, DEL and DEL2, announced they will cancel the remainder of the campaign and not crown a league champion. The decision was made as a result of the ban on events with more than 1,000 spectators. The playoffs were slated to begin March 11 with pre-quarterfinal contests. As a result of the cancellation, DEL will send its top four teams – EHC Red Bull Munich, Adler Mannheim, Straubing Tigers and Eisbaren – to the 2020-21 Champions League. [More]

• The Austrian League announced its season has been cancelled. [More]

March 7, 2020

• After surviving the initial round of March cancellations, the IIHF announced the Women’s World Championship will, indeed, be cancelled. In a statement, IIHF president Rene Fasel said it “was not an easy decision to make, as we were greatly looking forward to hosting this tournament in Canada. Nevertheless, the decision has been made due to safety concerns for the well-being of players, officials, and spectators.” Pending approval by the IIHF congress, the 2021 Women’s World Championship will be awarded to Halifax and Truro, N.S., which were set to host the 2020 event. [More]

• In addition to the cancellation of the top division event, the IIHF announced the Women’s World Championship Div. I Group A in Angers, France. [More]

March 2, 2020

• The IIHF has cancelled four men's U18 events and two women's tournaments amid the continued outbreak of coronavirus. The cancellations include: the 2020 U18 World Championship Div. II Group B in Sofia, Bulgaria; U18 World Championship Division II Group A in Tallinn, Estonia; U18 World Championship Division III Group A in Istanbul, Turkey; U18 World Championship Division III Group B in Kockelscheuer, Luxembourg; Women’s World Championship Division I Group B in Katowice, Poland; and Women’s World Championship Division II Group A in Jaca, Spain. [More]

• Switzerland’s top leagues, National League and Swiss League, have announced the playoffs will be postponed. [More]

Feb. 28, 2020

• Kyrgyzstan has announced that the World Championship Division IV competition slated for March 3-5 is cancelled.

Feb. 26, 2020

• The Asian Ice Hockey League cancelled its playoff final “due to concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus infection in Japan and overseas.” [More]

Feb. 24, 2020

• The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association announced the postponement of the Tokyo stop on the ‘Dream Gap Tour.’ The three-game series against the Japanese national team was part of the PWHPA’s spring schedule. The PWHPA plans to work with the Japanese national team to reschedule the games and add them to the 2020-21 calendar. [More]

Jan. 31, 2020

• After consulting with participants, organizers and the IIHF’s Medical Committee, the IIHF has cancelled the U20 Challenge Cup of Asia and U20 Challenge Cup of Asia Division I in Bangkok, Thailand, as well as the Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia and Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia Division I tournaments in Manila, Philippines. [More]

Want more in-depth features and analysis? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.



Expect The Florida Panthers To Build On This Season's Successes

Suffering a second-round sweep by the Tampa Bay Lightning was a painful end to the Florida Panthers' franchise-best regular season. What happens next?


Keys to Victory: St. Louis Blues vs. Colorado Avalanche (Game 5)

For the second time in the second round, we have an elimination game on our hands. Here's what you need to know ahead of Game 5 between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche.


What Happened to Jacob Markstrom?

The Calgary Flames are a game away from an early exit, and the man they counted on for so much of the season – Jacob Markstrom – has struggled mightily in the Battle of Alberta.