After initially holding out as one of the last few operating sports organizations worldwide, the KHL has now accepted fate. In a statement today, KHL president Alexey Morozov announced that they will cancel the rest of the 2019-20 playoffs and not award the Gagarin Cup. Morozov explained that he understands the frustration of fans, but needed to make a move to protect public health:
It’s unfortunate that we have to finish the season early, and it wasn’t an easy decision. I’m sure that every fan, along with us, wanted to see the conclusion of the competition. However, the health of players and their loved ones, club employees, employees of sports facilities, and, of course, the fans, is much more important.
The KHL is doing everything possible to not delay the start of the 2020-21 season, obviously a different tack than the NHL. Reports and speculation have swirled about the NHL playoffs taking part in the summer, which could push the start of next season back—though, a full 82-game schedule is still the league’s priority.
With the end of the KHL season, several players will start negotiating with NHL organizations, though their contracts do not officially expire until the end of April. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic spoke with the agent for Montreal Canadiens draft pick Alexander Romanov, who wouldn’t commit his client one way or the other at this point.