MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Wild's season would come to an end was already up in the air.
The team was in contention for a playoff spot in a crowded Western Conference race that wouldn't have been sorted out until the final few games.
Now that finish line -- and the Wild's playoff hopes -- are even murkier.
The NHL shut down its season Thursday amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, joining other sports leagues -- including the NBA, MLB and NCAA -- in making an unprecedented move to halt play.
It's unclear when or how games will resume after the league used the word "paused" in making its announcement.
This decision came down after the league consulted with medical experts and convened its Board of Governors over a conference call. Soon after, other hockey entities -- minor leagues, junior leagues and college tournaments -- suspended or ended their seasons.
A day earlier, the NBA stopped operations after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19, an illness caused by exposure to a novel coronavirus.
That news made it "no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement, since the two leagues share facilities and locker rooms and "it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point."
Bettman encouraged players and others affiliated with the NHL to take reasonable precautions, including self-quarantine if needed. But how players spend this downtime is unclear since the NHL didn't specify whether travel or player-organized practices are permitted.
"Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup," the statement continued. "Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy."