IIHF postpones World Championship due to COVID-19 pandemic
The Kontinental Hockey League has given up on trying to reschedule its playoffs and canceled the remainder of the season.
The Russia-based KHL is widely considered to be the strongest league outside the NHL. It was due to play its conference semifinals when play was suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“It's unfortunate that we have to finish the season early, and it wasn't an easy decision." Alexey Morozov, KHL President said in a statement, "I'm sure that every fan, along with us, wanted to see the conclusion of the competition. However, the health of players and their loved ones, club employees, employees of sports facilities, and, of course, the fans, is much more important.
Teams from Finland and Kazakhstan withdrew because of travel and safety concerns. That left the league with six teams in an eight-team bracket. The KHL tried to draw up a new playoff system and considered resuming in June and July but has now decided to focus on preparing for a 2020-21 season.
League president and former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Alexei Morozov says “we consider that no one has the right to take on responsibility for people’s lives and health.”
It’s unclear how or even whether a champion will be declared. The league says the board will discuss how to allocate finishing positions.
"I understand that many will be upset with the cancellation of the 2019-20 season, especially the fans of clubs that had progressed to the second round of the playoffs. However, we must follow the recommendations of health organisations," Morozov said.