The top-tier Finnish hockey league, “Liiga,” has postponed all games through December 19th.
The Finnish Liiga is postponing all scheduled games from tomorrow through Dec. 19 because of the deteriorating situation with COVID-19 and stricter restrictions imposed in some regions of the country.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 2, 2020
All Liiga Games Postponed
Importance of the Liiga
The Liiga was one of the six founding leagues of the Champions Hockey League. The Champions Hockey League is an annual tournament featuring the top professional leagues in Europe. The Liiga has been a top league for Finnish and other European players for several years now. Many significant NHL players have come to the NHL from the Liiga. Just look at Sami Vatanen formerly of the Carolina Hurricanes and Antti Raanta of the Arizona Coyotes as examples. Both are highly gifted individuals. They have made a name for themselves in North America and are essential pieces to their team’s success. Although Vatanen remains unsigned as of now, it is more due to financial uncertainty around the league than his level of talent.
COVID-19 Impacting the Hockey World
Just two days ago, Canada’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League cancelled games until January. This is the second major hockey league to suspend all activity in recent days. COVID-19 ripped through the sports world once. Now it is doing so again. The importance of these years to NHL hopefuls cannot be understated. If prospects want to develop into the stars of tomorrow, they need to play games against top talent sooner rather than later. Postponing games is the right move in terms of player and fan health. The players will want to get back on the ice as soon as possible though.
As the second league to cancel games, we have to consider when this could reach professional North American leagues. If smaller prospect leagues are being forced to shut down, the NHL could be on the chopping block soon if plans for a season are announced. The NFL has struggled with this in recent days as the San Francisco 49ers were forced to move home games to Arizona due to COVID-19. It is only a matter of time until the NHL needs to consider their plans for next season.
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