After multiple attempts to resuscitate the 2020 Gagarin Cup playoffs, today the Kontinental Hockey League announced that they would suspend the remainder of their season due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, with no Gagarin Cup winner to be crowned in 2020.
The KHL initially suspended play after the playoff Quarterfinals had ended, leaving eight remaining teams in the hunt – Ak Bars Kazan, Barys Nur-Sultan, Sibir Novosibirsk and Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the East, and CSKA Moscow, SKA Saint Petersburg, Jokerit Helsinki and Dynamo Moscow in the West, the latter who advanced in front of an empty CSKA Arena, eliminating Spartak Moscow on 12 March, the final Quarterfinal game.
However, shortly before the Semifinals were set to begin, both Barys and Jokerit both announced their abrupt withdrawal from the playoffs, due to Kazakh and Finnish travel bans in place. The KHL initially reconsidered restructuring the remaining teams into a six-team Semifinal, before then announcing the playoffs were to be delayed until at least 10 April, and finally cancelling the playoffs and season outright on 25 March, as the virus’ spread has now begun to seriously impact Russia.
Russia now becomes the second last European league to suspend club play, with only Belarus still holding out, marking hockey’s second most prestigious club trophy (only behind the NHL’s Stanley Cup) that will now not be awarded. The 2019 champions, CSKA Moscow, will unofficially hold the league’s title for another year, while the hockey world now turns to its last hope, the National Hockey League, in the hopes that they too do not cancel their Stanley Cup for only the third time in history, but rather simply postpone their 2019-20 season, due to this pandemic.