LOS ANGELES – The NHL announced the postponement of its draft, scouting combine and annual awards ceremony on Wednesday, the latest major events to be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
No new date for any of the events was announced. The combine was scheduled for June 1-6 in Buffalo, New York. The draft was originally slated for June 26-27 in Montreal.
The NHL isn't the first U.S. sports league that has had to alter its draft plans. The NFL canceled its in-person event in Las Vegas, originally scheduled for April, and will instead stage the draft in a TV studio. Major League Baseball is reportedly considering skipping its 2020 draft, scheduled for June 10-12, in order to save money in what will likely be a shortened season.
Meanwhile, the NHL's chief medical officer said Wednesday he expects the coronavirus pandemic to get worse before it gets better in North America and differences across 31 markets are likely to affect when players might get back on the ice.
Dr. Winne Meeuwisse said it is difficult to predict when cases of COVID-19 might peak or begin to decrease, which muddles any potential timeline for the resumption of practices or games. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said league officials “continue to hold out hope that at some point we'll be able to resume play.”
– News services