COVID-19 continued to shake up sporting life on the planet on Wednesday, this time hitting on an event that was eagerly awaited in Montreal, especially for a young man from the greater Montreal area.
The National Hockey League has announced the postponement of its annual NHL draft, scheduled to take place at the Bell Centre on June 26 and 27, due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
The location, date and format of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and draw will be announced when all details have been finalized, NHL officials said in a brief news release.
The Montreal Canadiens’ home was to host the selection round for the first time since 2009. That year, John Tavares was claimed first place by the New York Islanders.
The event was all the more anticipated this year as Quebec forward Alexis Lafrenière of the Rimouski Oceanic is virtually guaranteed to be the first player selected.
Goalkeeper Marc-André Fleury, now with the Vegas Golden Knights, is the latest Quebec-born player to be selected at the very top of the draft in 2003 in Nashville.
“While unfortunate for hockey fans in general, and for our fans here in Montreal, this decision was the right one to make under the circumstances. I am confident that the league will come up with an alternative that will satisfy all hockey fans,” said France Margaret Bélanger, Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer of Groupe CH, in a press release released by the Canadiens’ organization minutes after the announcement.
The league also announced that the NHL Prospects Evaluation Camp, scheduled to be held in Buffalo June 1-6, and the award night, scheduled for June 18 in Las Vegas, have also been postponed. The NHL has expressed an interest in returning to Las Vegas, where it has held its awards night since 2009.