As TJHN first reported, the OJHL released a schedule at the beginning of this week, and that schedule did not have the Buffalo Jr. Sabres on it.
Now local press in Ontario is reporting that “Due to the pandemic and restrictions on cross-border travel, the Buffalo Jr. Sabres’ leave of absence from the OJHL has been extended by an additional year. The Jr. Sabres are the lone U.S. team in the league. The club will return to action in the OJHL for the 2022-23 season.”
This certainly falls in line with the border not reopening heading in the direction of the United States for Canadian based teams to compete any time soon.
With the United States border closure expected to be extended on Saturday August 21st to a minimum of September 21st, other Canadian leagues must now begin to look at contingency plans for their American teams.
The OHL, WHL, NOJHL, SIJHL, BCHL and KIJHL must now begin to look at contingency plans for games that had been scheduled in September in some cases. While some October start dates may yet be possible, October is still not looking probable.
Multiple sources in border patrol and military services are still reporting that January is the most realistic goal for full reopening should vaccinations continue, and the most recent COVID surge slow down.
Players and parents must keep in mind that the border closure is not only a medical matter but one of politics. The United States is not likely to open to Canada without opening to Mexico. Given the trouble with migrants at the Mexico border, and political calls for continued closure due to spread of COVID and illegal immigration, Canada will also likely continue to experience the same treatment.
I would not be holding my breath waiting for the border to open before contingency plans are activated. This goes as much for leagues and teams as it does for players.