Tuesday night marked yet another milestone in the return of hockey as the QMJHL held their first preseason games for the 2020-21 season. The games marked the first time games were played with fans in the stands in North America since March 13, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The QMJHL is one of three leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League. The other two leagues, the Western Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League, have announced a new start date of December 4, 2020.
Titan take it 6-3 tonight thanks to a combined 47-save night from Howatt and Guignard!
— Acadie-Bathurst Titan (@ABTitan) September 2, 2020
Social distancing guidelines vary among QMJHL clubs. The following guidelines are from the Acadie-Bathurst website, to provide an example of current social distancing guidelines.
The QMJHL will provide a good source of practical information for the NHL when the time comes for the NHL to begin allowing fans to attend games.
As for the format of the start of the 2020-21 NHL season, Major League Baseball and the National Football League will also provide practical guidance for the NHL, as those sports are operating with travel, and playing games in the home team’s arena, but without fans in attendance.
NASCAR and professional golf tours are also currently traveling to event sites each week, and have done an excellent job at preventing COVID-19 outbreaks.
The NHL is currently scheduled to open training camps for the 2020-21 season in mid-November with the season currently scheduled to begin on December 1st, so the league has time to monitor the aforementioned sports and determine what works with regarding to protocols and format.
By Jon Sorensen