The National Hockey League has called off its planned regular-season games in Europe this year as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators were due to open the 2020-21 season in Prague, Czech Republic, while the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets were poised to play later in the year in Helsinki, Finland. The Bruins and Predators were also scheduled to hold part of their training camps in Germany and Switzerland, respectively, and play in exhibition games against local teams.
The 2020 NHL Global Series would have marked the fourth straight year and ninth season overall that the NHL has traveled to Europe to play regular-season games.
The NHL and National Hockey League Players’ Association said in a statement: “The NHLPA and the NHL remain committed to maintaining and growing our international presence. 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.”
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, who is from Finland, said: “We are disappointed by the postponement of our trip to Finland, but look forward to having the opportunity to play in front of Finland’s passionate hockey fans in the future.”
There had also been preliminary talks of the NHL playing exhibition games in China in the 2020-21 preseason.
The National Football League also called off plans to play any international games in 2020 due to the ongoing health crisis. The league had intended to have one game in Mexico and four in the UK as part of its international play plan this year, but travel restrictions stemming from the public health crisis led it to mandate that all games be played this year in the US.
Major League Baseball, similarly, called off planned regular-season games in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and London earlier this year.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres were scheduled to play a two-game series in Mexico City on April 18-19. The New York Mets and Miami Marlins, meanwhile, had been scheduled to play a three-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from April 28-30.
The league also intended to bring the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals to London Stadium for a two-game series on June 13-14. That event, too, has since been canceled.