Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries announced this week that body contact may not be permitted in 2020-2021.
Lisa MacLeod said steps have to be taken by the OHL — or any sporting organization in the province — to slow the spread of COVID-19, including removing close physical contact among players.
“It would be safe to say that body contact, unless it’s incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19,” said MacLeod. “That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play.”
The need to remove close and physical contact at this time is well understood. How the game of hockey implements changes to adhere to those principles is much less understood. It will be interesting to follow the league and see how this transpires.
In addition, there are other sizeable hurdles to be cleared for the OHL to return to play.
Three of its teams are in the United States — Flint (Mich.) Firebirds, Saginaw (Mich.) Spirit, and Erie (Pa.) Otters — and having them cross the border are currently not permitted.
Also, according to the CBC, two of the OHL teams — the Ottawa 67’s and Mississauga Steelheads — are in “hot zone” parts of Ontario, where the second wave is at its worse.
In other CHL news, earlier this week the QMJHL voted to change their rules for fighting in order to receive $20 million in pandemic relief funds from the Quebec Government. Representatives from the league’s 18 teams in Quebec and the Maritimes voted on the new rules in a video conference last Wednesday.
By Jon Sorensen