Canada has handled the COVID-19 pandemic better than the United States. Anyone trying to argue that fact simply needs to go back to school and finish their education.
Ontario, once one of the Canadian “hot spots” for the virus is seeing drops in numbers as the residents maintain mask wearing and social distancing requirements established by various Ministry’s of Health.
Now, in a public statement that is receiving little notice from the hockey world, the Ontario Hockey Federation has said their will be no competitive, or contact hockey until a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus is found.
The federation has released its Stage 3 Return to Hockey Framework, focusing on skill development and local tiered three-on-three and four-on-four noncontact leagues. There is no five-on-five hockey allowed until “Stage 4”.
Ontario Hockey Federation Executive Director Phillip McKee has now publicly said;
“We got direction from the Ministry (of Heritage, Sport Tourism and Culture) in a call that we’re not going to move out of Ontario’s stage three until there is a vaccine,” McKee said. “Unless we’re able to produce a way to build no physical contact into the game or allow physical contact in some form we’re not back into traditional Stage 4 hockey. For the foreseeable future we are in Stage 3.”
“Tryouts, travel leagues, tournaments and year-end championships won’t occur until Stage 4, McKee said. That won’t likely come until the province moves into the fourth stage of its reopening plan.”
The Ontario Hockey Federation controls the fate of the OJHL, NOJHL, GOJHL and GTHL among others.
Stage 3 has five phases with phase A in effect until Aug. 31, focused solely on skill development using 2019-20 rosters.
Phase B begins Sept. 1, bringing together players of similar skill level who reside within the same public health unit jurisdiction.
Phase B and C move into some noncontact three-on-three and four-on-four hockey with physical distancing on the benches and in dressing rooms.
Local leagues of up to 50 players, 10 per team, can be formed with location associations allocating players into tiered groups.
Phases D and E move into five-on-five play but won’t occur before November, McKee said.
No Junior Hockey, and no AAA hockey in the leagues affiliated with the Ontario Hockey Federation before November, and likely not until December or January.
The Hockey Canada levels of Associations, Federations and other red tape management divisions make it nearly impossible to understand what the Province will do.
Keep in mind though that this is a Provincial decision, and whether or not affiliated with the OHF, all Junior and AAA leagues are likely going to have to follow this model.
This is more than likely the sole reason for the Ontario Hockey League pushing back it’s start date to December.
Come back tomorrow for more information.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser