The OJHL has been approved by the Ontario Hockey Federation to return to play, though under dramatically different conditions than players and fans are used to.
No body contact. No post whistle scrums or puck battles. All benches disinfected between periods.
The big change?
All players are not only required to wear bubble face mask protection, but they are also required to wear additional facial coverings to reduce the risk of spray transmission of COVID-19.
Additional steps include keeping players and teams in small cohorts within a bubble type environment. Switching in between groups of cohorts to allow wider league play across multiple Ontario health units remains a significant hurdle for a return to play.
Another big caveat though is that this return to play plan is contingent on local health authorities approving it for each individual team. If one health authority is not satisfied, the team in that region may not play.
Complicated? Definitely. But it is a step forward in a season that has been standing still thus far this season.
Still the regular season is not going to be attempted to start until the new year. This is only allowing for pre season play under these conditions, it is simply a trial.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser