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NHL postpones international games planned for 2020-21 season

A ceremonial puck drop before the start of a game between the Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, in 2009.
(Richard Heathcote / Getty Images)

The NHL postponed the Global Series games it had planned for next season, delaying but not rescheduling the 2020-21 season opener between the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators in Prague, Czech Republic in October, as well as two games between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche that were to be played in Helsinki, Finland.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Assn. issued a joint statement Friday saying the games had been postponed but they didn’t offer an explanation.

“The NHLPA and the NHL remain committed to maintaining and growing our international presence,” the statement said. “We hope that our fans overseas understand the need to postpone the 2020 games, but we look forward to being back with them in 2021.”

The league and the union are in discussions about whether they can complete the 2019-20 season within health and safety restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Most possibilities under consideration would stretch competition into September or later, whether that means finishing the regular season before beginning the Stanley Cup playoffs or whether the league and the union decide to relaunch with the playoffs.

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A series examining the challenges major sports leagues, teams and athletes are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

An expanded, 24-team playoff field with teams based in four “hub” cities appears to have become the favorite option, but league officials repeatedly have said that no decisions have been made because of the changeable nature of current public health rules.

Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto are known to have promoted their respective candidacies to the NHL to host games in Canada. Columbus has been touted as a potential U.S. site because of the availability of practice rinks and hotel rooms to house players and teams.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said he is open to starting the 2020-21 season in December if that allows for the current interrupted season to be completed and the Stanley Cup to be awarded.


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