NHL takes timeout due to COVID-19 concerns; St. Paul businesses hope Wild get back on ice

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Professional sports leagues including the NHL, MLB, NBA and MLS have all paused their seasons due to concerns over COVID-19.

The Minnesota Wild were supposed to play a key game in their quest for the playoffs against the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night in St. Paul before the league stopped the season.

Two Wild fans from Detroit Lakes stayed up late making signs and drove down to St. Paul hoping to go to their first NHL game. Unfortunately, it was all for naught.

“We appreciate the understanding of our fans, corporate partners and guests under these extraordinary circumstances,” the Wild wrote in a statement.

Down the road from the Xcel Energy Center, at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub, the league stoppage was all that was talked about around the lunch hour.

"When the NHL made the decision it’s very, very hard for us obviously, but all the different bars and restaurants all over St. Paul rely on that revenue,” said Sam Bergstrom, manager at Tom Reid’s. “It’s going to be a real struggle.”

Staff said March is one of the biggest months the bar normally has with sports tournaments in town and games on television. The uncertainly of COVID-19 has them hoping sports teams come back on the ice and court sooner rather than later.

To help with the health of customers, staff said they’ve started extra procedures guided by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Kurt Wescott, a longtime Wild season ticket holder who was having lunch at the bar said he hopes the NHL can eventually finish their season.

“I’m always looking forward to the playoffs, every year, that’s a bummer if they don’t get into the playoffs,” Wescott said. “I’ll be back next year, this is going to pass.”

The NHL made its announcement shortly after a Board of Governors meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman after consulting with medical experts.

In a statement, the NHL said because an NBA player tested positive for COVID-19 and the leagues share many facilities and locker rooms, it was no longer appropriate to play games at this time.

You can read the full NHL statement here.

“We will continue to work closely with the NHL and local, state and national authorities on all of our safety measures and any necessary next steps we need to take in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Wild wrote.

You can read the Wild’s full statement here. The team later added tickets purchased will be valid for make-up games when they are determined or refunds will be offered.