KHL suspends play until April 10 in hopes of slowing spread of COVID-19

KHL

Mikhail Grigorenko fights for the puck against Mathew Maione. (Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP)

The Kontinental Hockey League has suspended competition until April 10 in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19, the league announced Tuesday.

The KHL — which is predominantly based in Russia, but has teams in Belarus, China, Finland, Latvia and Kazakhstan — has called for a stop to the Gagarin Cup playoffs, falling in line with recommendations by Russia’s ministry of sport and other regional authorities.

“I’m speaking to you now not just as the KHL president, but also as a former hockey player. I know very well what a fantastic atmosphere you fans generate in our arenas. But today we must face up to new conditions,” said KHL president, Alexei Morozov, in a statement.

“I urge you to understand the decision we have taken. In difficult times, people come together; right now, your support is more important than ever for the league and its clubs.”

The KHL announced Monday that it was only suspending the playoffs for a week, but planned to continue after that with a new format.

Two of the eight teams remaining in its post-season bracket — Finland’s Jokerit and Kazakhstan’s Barys — had already withdrawn due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The KHL said if coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted by April 10, the league will be prepared to continue with its post-season and will release a new format and timetable.

If restrictions remain, the KHL will make a further announcement at that time.

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