Men’s hockey world championship canceled, ending winter sports season

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The men’s hockey world championship, scheduled for May in Switzerland, has been canceled, effectively ending the Winter Olympic sports season.

“This is a harsh reality to face for the international ice hockey family, but one that we must accept,” IIHF President René Fasel said in a press release. “The coronavirus is a global problem and requires major efforts by government bodies to combat its spread. The IIHF must do all it can to support this fight. We have to set sport aside for now and support both the government bodies and the ice hockey family.”

Men’s hockey worlds traditionally mark the final major competition of the winter sports season. World championships scheduled for March or April in figure skating, women’s hockey, short track speed skating and curling were previously canceled.

The last winter sports world championships to take place this season were in bobsled, skeleton and long-track speed skating the last weekend of February.

USA Hockey had already named 1988 and 1994 Olympian Peter Laviolette as head coach, though it had not named a roster.

Last year, a U.S. team captained by Patrick Kane lost in the quarterfinals, extending the program’s drought. The last gold at a standalone worlds came in 1933. The Americans lost in the quarterfinals in 2017 and earned bronze in 2018, sandwiching an Olympic quarterfinal exit in PyeongChang without NHL players.

Finland won the world title for the first time since 2011. It became the first nation to win a world title without a player who finished that season on an NHL roster since at least 1993, not counting the 1995 and 2005 lockout years. The NHL didn’t participate in the Olympics until 1998.

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