Hockey

OHL, WHL delay opening 2020-21 campaign until December after COVID-19 shutdown

The Ontario and Western Hockey Leagues are following some of their professional counterparts by delaying the start of its 2020-21 season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memorial Cup slated to begin June 17

Reigning OHL rookie of the year Shane Wright and his Frontenacs teammates will have to wait until December to begin a new season as the junior league will delay the start to the 2020-21 regular campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Reuben Polansky-Shapiro/Canadian Press/File)

The Ontario and Western Hockey Leagues are following some of their professional counterparts by delaying the start of its 2020-21 season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OHL says it hopes to begin its season on Dec. 1. The WHL will start play on Dec. 4. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League have not yet announced plans for 2020-21.

The leagues usually begin play in September.

The Memorial Cup, a tournament featuring the championship team from all three leagues plus a host team, is scheduled to be played June 17-27, 2021 and will be hosted by either the OHL's Oshawa Generals or Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

The WHL said it is committed to playing a full regular season of 68 games, followed by four rounds of playoffs. The OHL says it hopes to play a 64-game season, four fewer games than usual.

The NHL has tentatively scheduled to start its next campaign in December, while the American Hockey League and the ECHL both have said they hope to begin play Dec. 4.

The OHL could face an issue at the border if it remains closed. The 20-team league has three American teams -- the Erie Otters in Pennsylvania and the Flint Firebirds and Saginaw Spirit in Michigan.

The league said it will continue to work with government and health agencies on issues including safe attendance at venues and cross border travel.

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