The Ontario Hockey League is canceling its Return to Play plans for the 2020-2021 season due to COVID-19 safety concerns.
Earlier this month, the OHL and the Government of Ontario reached an agreement on a Return to Play plan for the league. However, those plans are being cut short.
“We have worked tirelessly with the Province and the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the past year on different scenarios and different windows of opportunity but the reality is the conditions in Ontario have never been right to start and complete an uninterrupted, safe opportunity for players to showcase their skills,” said OHL Commissioner David Branch. “We owe it to our players and their families to be definitive. We were committed to return and play this season, but our hopes and desires have been dashed by the cruel realities of COVID-19.”
Before the league could announce any details about the agreement, OHL said COVID-19 conditions worsened. The plan envisioned a shortened season to be played in hub cities.
OHL was hoping to showcase the league’s 450 players for scouts preparing for the 2021 NHL draft, U SPORTS men’s hockey programs, and Hockey Canada’s World Junior Summer Evaluation Camp.
“Ontario has the strongest health restrictions of any jurisdiction in North America and we understood that this would make a return to play scenario extremely difficult,” added Commissioner Branch. “The openness the Premier, Minister Lisa MacLeod, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer and key staff have afforded us has not gone unnoticed and is greatly appreciated. We all agree that providing certainty for our players and families, even if it is not the answer they would want to hear, is the right thing for everyone’s health and safety and for the mental health challenges faced by many of our young players.”