Today, the National Lacrosse League announced it will not complete the 2019-20 season and instead will prepare for the 2020-21 season. The decision follows the cancellation of the regular season which was announced on April 6 after suspension of the regular season on March 12 due to COVID-19.
“After an exhaustive effort weighing all of the factors, including the health and safety of our players and staff, immigration challenges, and the resources required to execute a post-season tournament under the current circumstances, our senior leadership and Board have agreed to redirect our attention to planning for next season,” NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said. “We want to thank all those involved, especially our players, coaches, and league and team staff, and most importantly our fans and partners, for their continued support and engagement through this global pandemic. Communities are starting to open up, sports are beginning to return, and we look forward to our 35th season. We wish everyone continued health and safety as we navigate our way back to the game.”
“We appreciate all the work that Nick and the team at the NLL have put in during these challenging times, and wholeheartedly support this decision,” President of the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association (PLPA) Peter Schmitz said.
“Unfortunately, we’re not going to have a champion for this year. A lot of thought, work and consideration has gone into the last 9-10 weeks,” Sakiewicz elaborated in an interview with the NLL’s Devon Kaney. “We just felt that at this point, given where everything is, all the challenges and hurdles we’ve had to overcome, the health and safety of the players and staff first and foremost… numerous immigration issues and just figuring out how to execute effectively and efficiently, there were way to many challenges in front of us.”
Sakiewicz elaborated that one of the biggest hurdles was ensuring that players would be able to obtain the necessary travel visas to play in a potential postseason format.
“The biggest hurdle was the visas… some were expiring at the end of June, some were expiring at the end of July. It was like a jigsaw puzzle that had no picture on it,” Sakiewicz explained.
The league will now focus its efforts fully on the upcoming 2020-21 season with plans to announce the dates for the 2020 NLL Draft and start of its 35th anniversary season in the fall.
“The health and safety of our players is always paramount. The league office has kept us apprised of the efforts to try and find a reasonable solution and that the continued uncertainty of the many considerations needed to restart the season have made it virtually impossible to chart a course to a season finale. We regret that the players, fans and clubs won’t get to enjoy what was sure to be an exciting playoff series but in light of the current state of affairs, we agree a focus on next years’ season is the best use of the downtime. We are all are looking forward to resumption of play next season.”