The KHL has finally decided – the 2019/20 season is officially over. The leadership of the league realized that there was no chance of playing the Gagarin Cup in a pandemic. Of course, big money is at stake, but financial losses can no longer be avoided – but health is more critical now, including the hockey players themselves.
“This decision was not easy. I am sure that all the fans together with us wanted to see the continuation of the struggle for the Gagarin Cup. However, in this situation, the health of players and their loved ones, club employees, employees of sports facilities, and, of course, fans are much more important. We believe that no one has the right to take responsibility for the life and health of people,” said League President Alexei Morozov.
This difficult decision was brewing: Jokerit announced the withdrawal from the Gagarin Cup on March 14, two days later Barys joined the flash mob. But the KHL was not embarrassed: the season was only suspended until April 10. The league has developed many scenarios for the further development of events: from playing out the championship until April 30, 2020, to continuing it in June and July. However, at the moment, the execution of these scenarios seems unlikely.
Several clubs were forced to declare their refusal to continue to participate in the playoffs. In addition, difficulties would arise with the return of foreign players to the territory of Russia. All this would deprive the tournament of sports attractiveness. Holding a playoff without teams that won the right to compete for the Gagarin Cup would be a violation of the sporting principle. The continuation of the championship in the summer would have an extremely negative impact on the next season. In this scenario, clubs need to completely change the usual terms for summer vacations and pre-season training, and the KHL would have to shift the terms of transfer windows, postpone the start of the season to a critically late date, and also reduce the number of games in the championship. Moreover, 18 league clubs have already completed their participation in the championship and have begun systematic preparations for the 2020/2021 season.