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NHL suspends regular season over coronavirus concerns

The Sabres were expected to play at Montreal tonight.
Credit: AP
Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel (9) celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The National Hockey League announced Thursday afternoon that it will "pause" the 2019-2020 season.

That is starting immediately with Thursday night'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."

The Buffalo Sabres are making plans to return to Buffalo immediately. They were expected to play at Montreal Thursday night.

The Sabres' emailed this statement:

The health and safety of players, staff and fans is our top priority. The Buffalo Sabres are in full support of the National Hockey League’s decision to pause the season. We urge all community members to practice caution and strictly follow the CDC’s guidelines for preventing the spread of disease during this time. We will continue to provide updates as necessary.

Since the NHL is planning to reschedule the games, tickets will be valid for the rescheduled dates. Please call the KeyBank Center ticket office with any questions (1-888-GO-SABRES). Sabres season ticket holders are also encouraged to reach out to their dedicated account representative with any inquiries.

The league still isn't sure how long it will have to suspend games. League officials say they will continue to monitor all appropriate medical advice and will encourage players and other members of the NHL community to take all reasonable precautions. 

The National Lacrosse League also announced on its website that the league is suspending the season temporarily. NLL teams also play in some of the same arenas. The league posted this statement: 

“The National Lacrosse League has determined that it is in the best interests of our fans, our players, our coaches and our staff to temporarily suspend play until further notice due to concerns over COVID-19. We will continue to evaluate this situation and remain in constant communication with health, team, business and league officials across North America. Security and safety is our top priority and focus in these challenging and unprecedented times, and we will continue to provide updates on resumption and rescheduling of play as they are determined.” 

The Buffalo Bandits play their home games at the KeyBank Center.

Major League Soccer announced Thursday it is suspending its season for 30 days due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus

MLS Commissioner Don Garber says the decision was based on advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Agency of Canada and other public health authorities. 

2 On Your Side will continue to update this developing story.