Just when things appear on the surface to be heading back toward some sense of normalcy, COVID-19 pops it’s head back up.
It has been like playing a game of “whack-a-mole” when trying to predict the impact on junior hockey that COVID-19 will have. One week things look good, the next week teams are closing up shop for the year.
Canada, who has a much better handle on the COVID-19 pandemic than the United States, is tightening restrictions in Ontario and Quebec.
Indoor gatherings and the limits on people allowed in one place are once again being restricted. This impacts hockey and its return to play in Ontario directly. It specifically effects Toronto and Ottawa, the homes of the OJHL and CCHL.
It also specifically effects some of the QMJHL teams who are already back to playing preseason games.
The new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored private social gathering across the province is:
10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50); or
25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100).
Public events like hockey games are still not allowed to take place, and in Ottawa and Toronto specifically they are unlikely to take place for a long time.
The news isn’t all bad in Ontario though. More remote locations like those that encompass the NOJHL and SIJHL are looking as though they may be able to see some re-opening before the rest of Ontario.
While the conditions of re-opening are yet to be known, the low number of infections, and the diligence of the Northern Ontario residents in wearing masks and social distancing have been noted by the Provincial Government as to reasons why special consideration will likely be given to the region.
Some have asked me if the GMHL will be able to play because they are not Hockey Canada sanctioned. The answer is NO.
The shut down is not Hockey Canada, it is the Canadian Government. If arena’s are not open and not allowed to have games, it doesn’t matter what league is trying to play. No games means no games.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser