Yes. You read the headline correctly. No American players playing in Canada in 2020.
Multiple team and league sources are reporting that Hockey Canada has told all junior hockey programs to not expect to have any American players on their teams in 2020. Read that again if you need to.
Hockey Canada has told them to proceed as though you will not have access to any American players this year.
Due to the Coronavirus and COVID-19, all “non essential” travel to Canada is closed. The Canadian Government has made it clear that hockey is “non essential”.
Take note, there are no tryouts scheduled in Canada. All “import player” drafts and combines taking place in Canada have been cancelled.
Also note that nearly every American player transaction going to Canada stopped about three weeks ago. The exception being one or two Major Junior commitments
This is not by mistake, and it is not a rumor. These transactions are easy to track, and this pattern is completely out of the ordinary in any off season.
Any person, including hockey players entering Canada is subject to a two week quarantine. This means players would have to go two weeks early to play in a weekend tryout camp. Its simply not happening.
More proof of this is that teams and leagues are informing players they will not have billeting this year unless it is with a local player who has made his local team.
United States based teams playing in Canadian leagues are being told they will likely have to play the first part of the season on the road in Canada if they wish to play this season.
Go back to the quarantine rule and you will understand that teams wont be going across the border two weeks before playing a road weekend. This rule is for every team at every level, Major Junior included.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the British Columbia Provincial Health Officer has stated on multiple occasions that she doesn’t anticipate sports to be able to resume any time soon. Just four days ago saying;
“I think it’s unlikely we will have a vaccine by the fall and I also think it’s unlikely that we’re going to have events that have large crowds. I am not removing the order of the 50-person limit.”
Canada’s Minister of Health Adrian Dix has echoed Dr. Henry’s sentiments on a national scale.
That means no ticket sales, and no tryout camps in general in Canada. No games until there is a zero rate of infection, a vaccine, or a proven effective treatment made available to everyone. Yes, read that again.
“If we can’t get gate revenue then we can’t operate. If we carry on the way we’re going we’re losing significantly hundreds of thousands of dollars as time goes on. If we go the whole year, it’ll be into the millions. It’s not sustainable for a long period of time, that’s for sure,” said Ron Toigo, the Vancouver Giants’ majority owner and president while appearing with James Cybulski and Perry Solkowski on Sportsnet 650, a Vancouver radio station.
The same comments have been made by other Provincial Health Officers across Canada.
How many teams in the United States, playing in Canadian leagues could afford, ice, housing, meals, travel costs and everything else associated with operating for as many as two or three months? Not many, and probably zero.
How many high school students could leave for that length of time? Would teams propose to force players to pay for on line school? After the pandemic wipes out people’s incomes, they sure are not likely to pay for it.
Why aren’t the leagues announcing anything? No one is talking about when the season will start for a reason. It likely wont start in Canada until December or more likely January. Again, this is not a rumor, this is coming from team and league sources. More on that tomorrow.
Want more proof? Look at the NAHL supplemental draft, and the USHL draft. An unprecedented amount of players coming from Canada were taken in these drafts. Think these leagues don’t know what is going on?
Now think about the roughly 900 players per year going north to Canada from the United States to play in Hockey Canada leagues along with a few hundred more that play in non Hockey Canada leagues. All of those players now will be looking for places to play in the USA.
All of that pay to play Junior A (Tier II) and Junior B money will leave Canada making teams more cash poor than ever before.
Multiple league commissioners were given the opportunity to comment on this story before I wrote it. All of them have chosen to not say anything. No denial is just as good as a confirmation.
Why would I put this information out now? Because players who thought they were going to Canada need to figure out a new plan. Players who thought they had already committed to a team in Canada really don’t have a commitment worth anything when no one will let you cross the boarder.
The lack of transparent communication to players, especially those who pay, is clearly a statement saying that the teams and leagues needs are more important than the players. Even when the players are the life, and cash flow of each team. Frankly it’s deplorable.
How about those Canadian players who want to play in the USA? Everything depends on when President Trump decides to open the USA borders. I suspect that the border opening will not be timed mutually between the two countries for two reasons.
First, the USA is being much more aggressive in reopening for business and tourism. They will likely open the borders first.
Canada’s Premier has said he will take his time and make a decision once things are under control. Each Canadian Province also has their own Premier and almost unanimously they have said they don’t want the borders to open and they don’t want Americans in their Provinces until its absolutely safe. They will open when the numbers of infections in the USA are zero or near zero which wont happen for a long time.
Second, Canada has already agreed to pay every adult 2000 dollars a month for four months, plus 500 per child. This will keep plenty of cash in business and peoples bank accounts, so the financial damage will be minimal compared to that in the USA.
Right about now, many Canadian people are pretty pissed at me for breaking this news. Sorry, the players deserve to know what is going on so they can plan accordingly.
Come back for more on the situation in Canada tomorrow.
Feel free to contact me if you need to reorganize your plans for next season. For every problem there is a solution, don’t be stuck holding your stick when other people have found new opportunities.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser