The OJHL released its schedule the other day. Its great that all of the Junior A leagues in Canada are getting ready for a return to play. But if you think its going to be a normal return to play, you are not paying attention to the information already in front of you.
Take a look at the OJHL schedule;
Can you tell me what is missing?
What is missing is the Buffalo Jr Sabres. Just an omission? I don’t think so.
What else is missing from Canadian Junior Hockey for teams based in the United States? An open border allowing for Canadian teams to travel to play in the United States.
While teams from the United States can in theory go to Canada to play for now, Canadian teams are not coming to the United States.
With COVID surging in the United States, the border closure is expected to be extended in the United States again this week.
While some Canadian leagues with teams based in the United States are choosing to begin their seasons later, and others have some contingency plans in place, the border issue will likely continue to cause problems for months to come.
Canada has said that as of October all international travelers to Canada will be required to be vaccinated. Some vaccines are not approved in Canada, like the Russian vaccine SPUTNIK. What does this mean for Major Junior players from Russia?
With COVID cases rising in Canada, and the United States how long will the Canadian border remain open? Will restrictions on activity like hockey be put back in place?
Some teams in the United States have already begun talking to arenas in Florida and Texas as their home states begin to see rising numbers of COVID cases in the event that contingency plans are needed.
Germany just added the United States to its high risk category for travel. Do not be surprised to see more countries do the same. Several States within the United States are now labeled as high risk within the United States.
The EOJHL is the first to publicly make COVID vaccination mandatory for the 2021-2022 season. RELEASE | EOJHL Announces Vaccination Policy | EOJHL – Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League (theeojhl.ca) The league formerly known as the CCHL2 is likely just the first of all junior leagues in Canada to make this requirement.
The BCHL has now publicly admitted that those players without vaccinations may not be allowed to play. In an executive committee memo distributed August 13, 2021, it was said;
““The League is aware of a number of organizations that are investigating and implementing mandatory vaccination policies, including some arenas and facilities that teams may use,” continuing “Where this arises, unvaccinated staff and players will be unable to play, practice or participate. Based on current information, the League expects that more organizations will be moving to requiring that any persons seeking to enter or use their premises/facilities will have to be fully vaccinated.”
Unvaccinated players must wear full-face shields. Unvaccinated coaching staff, trainers and other bench staff must wear a face mask on the bench at all times and wear face masks when distancing is not possible at team meetings and gatherings, including any off-ice warmups, gyms and dressing rooms, buses and community events.
This policy is likely to include fans in buildings during games.
Those that choose to keep their heads in the sand are likely to end up like those that did last season. Not playing hockey or scrambling at the last second to find something and hopping that when you find it the season is not canceled or delayed.
Yes. I know. I am just planting fearful thoughts un-necessarily. Just like I did last year. You know, last season when nearly everything I said that would happen actually happened.
Yep, I am sure Buffalo being off the schedule is purely an oversight, and everything is just going to be ok. Keep believing that.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser