NHL Postpones Annual Draft, Awards

Dan Mennella
March 25, 2020 - 5:28 pm

The NHL announced the postponement of its yearly draft, awards, and scouting combine events on Wednesday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The draft, originally set for June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada, will be rescheduled at a different location with details to be revealed later, the league said.

The announcement came shortly after the NHL's chief medical officer warned during a conference call with reporters against resuming a normal schedule too hastily amid the uncertain timeframes presented by the pandemic, ESPN reported.

"From a medical perspective, I think we'd have to understand what the risks are for the different groups," Dr. Willem Meeuwisse said, according to ESPN. "What are the risks to the players? What are the risks to the staff that would be required to run an event? And what are the risks to the fans?

"Once we know what those things are, I think we can make a more intelligent decision."

Canadiens Executive Vice President Margaret Belanger said she supported the move.

"While today's news is disappointing for fans of hockey in general and those here in Montreal in particular, this is the right decision to make under the circumstances."

The scouting combine, the annual prelude to the draft where teams get a final chance to size up prospects, was scheduled for June 1-6 in Buffalo, NY. It too was called off indefinitely, though the league did not say whether it would be made up, or skipped altogether, ahead of the rescheduled draft.

The NHL Awards, an event honoring the regular-season's best, is held every year in Las Vegas, Nevada. The league said it "looks forward to returning to Las Vegas in the future."