KHL’s Jokerit voluntarily withdraws from Gagarin Cup playoffs ahead of second-round series

The KHL is one of the few leagues that has not cancelled its season, but one club has decided to cease its season regardless. Days before they were set to begin their second-round playoff series, Jokerit has pulled out of the playoffs citing coronavirus concerns.
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Jokerit/Twitter

Jokerit/Twitter

Days before the start of their second-round series against SKA St. Petersburg was slated to begin, Finnish KHL club Jokerit Helsinki have withdrawn from the post-season amid concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the franchise announced its decision to pull out of the playoffs “on the basis of government guidelines given this week concerning the spread of the coronavirus.” The statement continued, saying talks were held between “club leadership, doctors and players,” at which point the decision was made not to travel to St. Petersburg for the beginning of the second round.

“These are exceptional times and they call for exceptional measures,” said Jokerit chairman Jari Kurri in a release. “The well-being and health of the people and our society is paramount and Jokerit wants to shoulder its responsibility in the matter. We have held thorough discussions with our team doctors and players and together come to this conclusion. It is a very difficult buy necessary decision.”

Jokerit’s decision comes mere days after it wrapped up its first-round series victory over Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. The Finnish-based club finished third in the Western Conference during the regular season, with a roster that features former NHLers such as Antti Niemi, Sami Lepisto, Petri Kontiola, Peter Regin and Saku Maenalanen.

If the KHL post-season continues – and at this juncture, all indications are that will be the case – it would appear that SKA will advance to the Western Conference final and await the winner of the second-round meeting between CSKA Moscow and Dynamo Moscow.

Previously, the KHL announced that the post-season was set to continue with either no fans in attendance or limitations put on attendance. Game 6 of the first-round series between Dynamo and Spartak Moscow, which the former won to advance to the second round, was closed to the public.

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