MLS

NHL cancels morning skates coronavirus
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NHL cancels Thursday morning skates, practices as decision looms

(Update: The NHL decided to “pause” the 2019-20 season. Read more.)

Citing “uncertainty regarding next steps regarding the coronavirus,” the NHL announced that teams were advised to cancel morning skates, practices, and meetings on Thursday.

This comes after the NHL stated that it was considering its options after the NBA put its season on hold due to the coronavirus.

The uncertainty regarding whether the season will be put on hold or not could be cleared up as soon as Thursday afternoon. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that there could be a conference call covering the issue at 1 p.m. ET.

Several signs point to the season being placed on hold, but it’s not a guarantee yet.

The CHL and AHL rank among other leagues that are still mulling over their options. Meanwhile, other sports leagues are making decisions, including the MLS’ interestingly specific 30-day pause.

Stay tuned as this situation develops. Check out the Push for the Playoffs in the event that Thursday’s games go on as planned.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS closing locker rooms amid virus scare

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MIAMI — The NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer are closing access to locker rooms and clubhouses to all non-essential personnel in response to the coronavirus crisis, the leagues announced in a joint statement Monday night.

The leagues said they made the decision “after consultation with infectious disease and public health experts.” The NBA, in a call with teams earlier Monday, stressed that the move is not to ban reporters but to ensure the safety of players and staff in those areas.

The statement, in part, read: “Given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting.”

The changes, which the leagues say are temporary, will begin Tuesday – though some NHL teams began putting them into use this past weekend. The NBA said interviews with players would continue in different settings, stressing a gap of 6-to-8 feet between reporters and interview subjects.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

Meanwhile, there is already a clear sense of the new normal in the U.S.

The Miami Heat held their annual gala at a theater in Miami Beach on Monday night, albeit a bit differently than usual. The team’s three NBA championship trophies were near the entrance — with someone standing by with a bottle of hand sanitizer. And guests, when they arrived, were offered champagne by some attendants, more hand sanitizer by others.

“Until the league says something else, we are business as usual with a tremendous amount of caution and prevention to make sure everybody’s safe,” Heat President Pat Riley said Monday night. “But also, educating them that they’ve got to do the same thing.”

The NBA has calls with team medical staffs scheduled for later Monday night and a call between league officials and team owners scheduled for Wednesday to discuss next steps. The NBA told teams last week to prepare for the possibility of playing games in empty arenas, something the game’s biggest star – Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James – insists he does not want to see.

“I doubt that that’s going to happen,” Riley said. “But you have to be prepared.”

More than 113,000 people worldwide have tested positive for the disease and over 3,900 people with the virus have died, most of them in China. More than 62,000 people have already recovered. The virus has infected 600 people in the United States – including the director of the agency that runs the airports in New York and New Jersey – and at least 26 have died, most in Washington state.

The Pro Basketball Writers Association quickly responded to the leagues’ announcement by saying its membership “believes the safety of fans, players, team employees, arena workers and the media who cover the league must be protected. Our thoughts are with all people who already have been adversely impacted by the virus.

“Therefore, we understand the NBA’s decision to temporarily close locker rooms to everyone but players and essential team personnel with the NBA’s promise that once the coronavirus crisis abates, the league will restore full access to the journalists who cover the league.”

MLS team’s ticket promotion doesn’t go as planned, thanks to Canucks

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The idea was simple enough: All the Vancouver Canucks had to do was score a single goal against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night and Major League Soccer side would give fans a chance to win a pair of tickets to their next home game against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

They didn’t have to beat the Kings, no, that would have been quite a task for a Canucks team that had won twice in their previous 10 games entering Monday night. Just one stinkin’ goal and a two happy fans would get to see Kei Kamara, Alphonso Davies and the 2-0 Whitecaps.

After a slow start peppering Jonathan Quick with just five shots in the first period, the Canucks really kept the Kings’ netminder busy over the final 40 minutes, firing 30 shots his way. The Whitecaps were keeping the faith:

But it was all for naught and LA ended up keeping Vancouver off the scoreboard entirely with a 3-0 victory.

So what was the MLS side to do in order to keep the promotion alive? They asked their Twitter followers to retweet a gif of some young Canucks fans and they would choose a winner.

Lesson learned, Whitecaps.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Report: NHL, Nationals in discussion on Winter Classic venue

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News of the Washington Capitals hosting the 2015 Winter Classic broke almost a year ago in September 2013, but as of this writing, there’s still no decision on a venue.

The Capitals and Blackhawks are scheduled to play outdoors in Washington on New Years Day.

According to a story in the Washington Post, there are still on-going discussions regarding a venue for the game.

NHL officials visited Nationals Park home to the Washington Nationals, RFK Stadium where the MLS’ D.C. United play home games and FedEx Field home of the Washington Redskins.

The report says FedEx Field has already been ruled out due to a Dec. 28 football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Redskins. According to the Post, there wouldn’t be enough time following the football game for an outdoor rink to be assembled for a 1 p.m. puck drop on Jan. 1.

Events DC CEO Greg O’Dell confirmed that the NHL is currently in discussions with the Nationals to host the Winter Classic at the ball park.

“I have not been told definitively by anybody that they have ceased discussions,” he said.

The January game will be the second one outdoors for the Capitals while the Blackhawks played in the 2009 Winter Classic and played against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Stadium Series game last season.

Related: Blackhawks talk up 2015 Winter Classic