Canadian Hockey League cancels playoffs while NHL has yet to give timeline on possible return

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The Canadian Hockey League announced Monday that it would cancel the 2020 playoffs and Memorial Cup after deciding last week to cancel all remaining regular-season games, foreshadowing what might happen with the NHL.

The CHL issued a statement announcing the decision to cancel playoffs for all of its regional leagues after first postponing the season and then canceling it.

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“We have continued to monitor the latest updates and advice from all public health agencies and medical experts, and worked tirelessly to determine a scenario by which the balance of our season could be played. Unfortunately, given the troubling state of our global climate and public welfare, there is still too much risk and uncertainty to move forward in good conscience,” the statement read.

“With that in mind, CHL President Dan MacKenzie and Commissioners David Branch, Gilles Courteau, and Ron Robison have made the difficult decision to cancel the OHL, QMJHL, and WHL playoffs, and along with the support of Kia Canada as the presenting sponsor, to cancel the 2020 Memorial Cup which was scheduled to be held in Kelowna, B.C., May 22-31, 2020.”

The CHL is one of the first leagues to announce that the season in its entirety, including playoffs, would be canceled as a result of COVID-19.

The move comes just after the NHL sent out a memo advising its players to return home, including those who live outside the U.S., after postponing the season. Players had previously been told to remain in their team's city and await further direction from the league.

Commissioner Gary Bettman suspended the season last week for an unknown period of time.

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“Nobody knows how long the hiatus may be. Nobody, even the medical community, can predict it with certainty. And what we’re doing is, we’re modeling every conceivable alternative so that when it’s appropriate to go back to work, we will know what our options and our alternatives are," he said.

It is unclear whether the NHL will follow suit with the CHL but Bettman previously said he remained optimistic about resuming and still awarding the Stanley Cup, which has only not been handed out twice since 1893: in 1919 during the Spanish flu outbreak and in 2005 because of a lockout.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.