EXCLUSIVE: USHL Expected to Suspend Season in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

Coronavirus fallout continues to wreak havoc


Chad Phillips Photography, Wikimedia Commons

In a Forest Scout exclusive, the USHL is expected to suspend its league operations

Peter Elliott, Editor

Peter Elliott, Editor

This is a developing story. The Forest Scout will provide further coverage as updates are made available.

UPDATE: The USHL season has been offically suspended, according to a release issued by the league. (12:12 p.m. CST)

The USHL Board of Directors has officially voted to suspend all play and hockey operations, according to a source. (11:49 a.m. CST)

The USHL is informing teams and coaches that the season will be suspended for at least two weeks. The timetable is subject to change. (11:08 a.m. CST)

The United States Hockey League (USHL) is moving rapidly towards suspending its season as it grapples with how to handle the COVID-19 outbreak, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told The Forest Scout Wednesday night.

The league is actively informing coaches, general managers, and other staff, but has not issued a formal statement regarding the discussion that is quietly brewing. The sources expect an announcement about the fate of the season sometime this weekend.

The development comes as sports leagues around the world are scrambling to address the rapid fallout of virus, which was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday afternoon.

The NCAA announced its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would be played in empty stadiums with only essential personnel and limited family members, and the Italian Olympic Committee has ruled a stop on all domestic sporting events. Serie A soccer games were played in front of empty stadiums for over a week leading up to the decision.

Seasons and contests — from baseball to soccer, cycling to distance running — across Asia and Europe have likewise been postponed or suspended indefinitely.

The NBA announced Wednesday night that it was suspending its season “until further notice” after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.

U.S. health officials have confirmed that there are currently more than 1,200 confirmed causes of coronavirus domestically, with likely thousands more suspected. So far, close to 40 deaths have been linked to the disease.

Since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China in December, more than 100,000 cases have been reported globally with more than 4,000 deaths as a result.

The USHL is the highest level of amateur hockey in the United States and often considered a path from youth to college hockey. The league is made up of 16 teams across the Midwest. Players room with host families, pass frequently through visitor’s locker rooms around the league, and bus travel is the only form of transportation, raising questions and concerns over how a virus so contagious could possibly be avoided.

On Tuesday, the league issued a statement stating that the situation was being monitored.

“The safety of our athletes, staff, officials and fans is of paramount importance,” USHL President and Commissioner Tom Garrity said at the time.

With six weeks left in the regular season, the news comes as teams are making their playoff pushes.

The league has been working in conjunction with its partners, the NHL and USA Hockey to determine how to address the situation, and are expected to follow their recourse.

USA Hockey announced Wednesday night that they were canceling their National Championships.

The NHL did not follow suit of the NBA and announce its season’s cancelation, but a decision is expected to be made about how the rest of the season will play out within the next few days.

“The NHL is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating its options,” a press release issued by the league stated. “We expect to have a further update tomorrow.”

More to come.