The NHL says it is evaluating its options for the rest of the 2019-20 season after the NBA suspended its season until further notice on Wednesday night.
The NBA made its decision after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The NHL expects to make a further announcement Thursday.
“We just heard, it’s still a little fresh and we haven’t had time to digest or anything,” Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid said after his team lost 4-2 to the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate, but public health and safety is a priority and it’s more important than any sporting event right now. The NHL is going to review and they will make a decision whether or not to keep playing, but it’s out of our hands.”
Jets captain Blake Wheeler said his team found out the NBA’s decision after the first period of the Winnipeg-Edmonton game.
Edmonton defenceman Darnell Nurse understands why the NBA made the call.
“Obviously the suspension of a season … that stinks for anyone,” said Nurse. “But you’ve got to put public safety and public health ahead of everything. I think obviously it’s an unfortunate situation but sport and lives are two things that are very different and you’ve got to worry about one over the other.”
The NHL says it is continuing to consult with its medical experts to determine its next course of action.
Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said there is nothing anyone can do but hold their breath and find out what the league comes up with on Thursday.
“It hits you so hard. I guess we just wait for that meeting tomorrow and see the direction they want to go,” he said. “It’s obviously not just a sports thing, it is a life thing. We’ll just follow the directive of the NHL and the NHLPA. It is kind of unprecedented. We will read and react as it comes along.
“There is a feeling of bewilderment. You understand that this is a world health crisis, but we have never gone through anything like this and there has been nothing that has affected the game like this. You understand when you are going through lockouts and things like that, that there is a business part of the game, but this is a health part of the game, a life part of the game.
“It affects everybody, not just sports. It is a turbulent time in the world and we will just have to deal with it as it comes.”
The NHL Players’ Association says it is in continuing contact with the NHL.
The association adds it will consult with its players before commenting further.
“We’ll do what we’re told and we’ll have faith in the people that make these decisions and should have faith that they’re going to do the right thing,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said.
— With files from Shane Jones in Edmonton.