The Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Buffalo Junior Sabres have jointly announced that the Junior Sabres will be taking a leave of absence for the 2020-2021 season.
This announcement is only the first of what will likely be announcements from every American team playing in Canadian Junior A and B Leagues. Yes, this is the first announcement and I predict every American based team in Canadian leagues will follow.
The Canadian border is closed and will remain closed for American players, the OJHL and the Junior Sabres did the right thing for players by taking a leave of absence now and letting the players have options for their season.
Taken from the joint OJHL and Junior Sabres release:
“The Buffalo Jr Sabres are tremendous partners within the OJHL and have always put the interest of their players at the forefront of their decisions”, stated Marty Savoy, OJHL Commissioner. “After careful consideration due to the uncertainty of the travel over the US/Canadian border, the Buffalo Jr Sabres have made the difficult decision, which the OJHL supports, to have the club not compete in the 2020-2021 season.”
The team and the league have been in communication for a number of weeks as the situation of travel between Canada and the United States continuesto be monitored.With so much uncertainty as to when the boarder will be open to allow for OJHL teams to travel inter-country between the US and Canada,the collective decision has been made to have the Jr Sabres take a leave of absence for the 2020-2021 season.
“The Buffalo Jr Sabres are part of the fabric in the OJHL.Our teams and players have had great success over our many years in the league”, said team Governor, Larry Playfair .
“We are the host of our league’s annual showcase, we are an entrenched member, which makes this mutual decision so difficult. We are thankful for all of the support provided from the Commissioner, league staff and all of our league teams. We look forward to returning after this brief pause to help further strengthen the OJHL as the League of Choice.”
The league will be working with the team over the next number of weeks for the dispersal of the players on the Jr Sabres roster.
Nick Tuzzolino, Jr Sabres General Manager and Associate Coach, offered comment on the difficult decision by stating:
“During this difficult process, the league and our leadership team has always focused on the players first. We have a great group of players and young men, and they deserve the opportunity to be in control of their options for next season. While it is unfortunate and upsetting that the mutual decision to pause this relationship had to be made, we did all we could working together to do what’s right. We know this is just a pause for this season, and look forward to being a valuable member of the OJHL in the future.”
Players take note. Do not continue to hope the border will open, or that some league will get special permission. They will not. Put together your backup plan now.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser