NHL calls off 2020-21 season games in Helsinki, Prague

AFP
Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will not see his team play in his homeland next season after the NHL announced Friday it was scrapping international games for the 2020-21 campaign (AFP Photo/BRUCE BENNETT)
Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will not see his team play in his homeland next season after the NHL announced Friday it was scrapping international games for the 2020-21 campaign (AFP Photo/BRUCE BENNETT)

New York (AFP) - National Hockey League regular-season games that were scheduled for early in the 2020-21 campaign in Helsinki and Prague have been called off in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

With concern about when or if the halted 2019-20 campaign might resume due to the deadly virus outbreak, the NHL and the NHL Players Association announced the decision to scrap the matchups with an eye to a 2021 return.

"The NHLPA and the NHL remain committed to maintaining and growing our international presence," a joint statement said. "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."

The Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins were scheduled to open their 2020-21 campaign against each other in October at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.

Each team was also planning to complete pre-season training camp in Europe and play an exhibition game against a local club, the Bruins in Mannheim, Germany, and the Predators in Bern, Switzerland.

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche were set to play two regular-season games at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.

"We're 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," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.

Kekalainen, a native of Finland and former NHL player, was the NHL's first European-born general manager.

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