In wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the NHL — much like the rest of the world – has grinded to a halt.
Less than 24 hours after the NBA opted to suspend its 2019-20 season in an effort to curtail the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the NHL followed suit, pausing its campaign less than a month away from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While just about every party involved is hoping for just a short break before a return to action later this spring — such a best-case scenario is far from a guarantee.
Narrowing the focus to just the product on the ice, Thursday's news comes as a shocking and brutal blow to the Bruins — who appeared to be well on their way to a Presidents' Trophy and an anticipated Cup run.
There are multiple scenarios that can transpire over the coming days and weeks in regard to both the Bruins and the league as a whole (all of which we'll cover extensively throughout this suspension here at BSJ).
A month-plus break in action could allow Boston to lick its wounds ahead of a playoff push, or could lead to a hefty amount of rust. The league could opt to dive right into playoff action, with the B's standing as the top dog with home ice throughout the gauntlet. Or, we could very well not see black and gold sweaters on the ice again until this fall — with a veteran roster looking to cash in on this short championship window forced to start from training camp once again.
Still, regardless of all the fallout that has erupted over an eventful couple of days, the Bruins reiterated in a collection of statements on Thursday that the league's decision to bite the bullet and sit out the next couple of weeks (at the minimum) was the correct call.
"Today’s news is difficult to process for our team, our staff, our city and our fans everywhere," Patrice Bergeron said. "As players, we love being able to compete and feed off the passion of our fans, but we understand that this challenge facing our world is much bigger than sports. We fully respect the NHL’s decision today and wish everyone good health until we can once again come together to celebrate the game we love.
"While it’s disappointing the season has been paused, it’s become apparent that the situation is much larger than sports," Zdeno Chara added. "In a time like this it is important we continue to listen to experts whose job it is to maintain the safety and well-being of the population until the issue stabilizes. That said, we hope the situation improves soon and we can resume our pursuit of the Stanley Cup. Finally, I’d like to wish everyone in the New England community, and people across the globe, safety and good health."
Yes, the prospect of no hockey — and really, no sports in general for at least the next couple of weeks — is a tough pill to swallow. But in the grand scheme of things, the actions taken by various sporting leagues and athletic conferences across North America on Wednesday and Thursday were a painful — but necessary — measure taken to both potentially salvage the remainder of the 2019-20 sporting year and, more importantly, curtail an ongoing crisis.
Such a sentiment was shared by the Bruins, who, much like the rest of us, can only sit and wait now.
"I think we all believe that the health and well-being of every individual person has to be the priority when decisions like this are made," Don Sweeney said. "We want to support the efforts of the entire Health sector as they dedicate their lives to care for those in need. Hopefully we are able to resume playing at some point and the pursuit of the Stanley Cup is realized and becomes a small part of the story. Right now, the world’s focus must remain on people staying healthy and recovering from these challenging times."