The Western Hockey League Board of Governors announced on Wednesday that the WHL Regular Season is scheduled to open on Friday, January 8, 2021. The league had previously announced a scheduled start date of December 4th, 2020.
The WHL also announced on Wednesday that all regular season games during the 2020-21 season will be played exclusively within the boundaries of each of the four Divisions, thus eliminating the need for international border crossings.
A final determination has not yet been made as to whether spectators will be permitted to attend WHL games as this will be subject to the approval of the Health Authorities in each jurisdiction.
In a virtual conference call with media, Western Hockey League (WHL) Commissioner Ron Robison began by confirming that Jan. 8 would be a start date for the league, and not a placeholder. Previously, the league had set dates for October and December, only to push it back.
“Our regular season will start on Friday, Jan. 8. That is a firm start date, not a tentative date. As we continue to work with the various governments and health authorities within our jurisdictions on some of the final touches and other issues we need to address with them, we will continue to do that in order to finalize details around our schedule,” Robison said.
The commissioner stressed each of the four provinces and two states the WHL operates in are at different stages relating to the pandemic, and time is needed to work on details before information regarding a schedule can be released.
FROM WHL MEDIA RELEASE
The WHL continues to work with each of the Governments and Health Authorities in the Provinces and States in Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest, respectively, on obtaining the necessary approvals to commence play. Details regarding the schedule of games in each of the four WHL Divisions will be announced at a later date.
The WHL has agreed that all Regular Season games during the 2020-21 season will be played exclusively within the boundaries of each of the four Divisions, with the East Division consisting of the seven Saskatchewan and Manitoba-based teams; the Central Division consisting of the five Alberta-based teams; the B.C. Division consisting of the five B.C.-based teams; and the U.S. Division consisting of the five teams located in Washington and Oregon.
The WHL is very excited to be opening our WHL Regular Season on January 8,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “The WHL is a world-class development league and we remain fully committed to providing our players with the highest level of training, coaching, and competition in the system.”
All WHL players will be reporting to their respective WHL Clubs following the Christmas break where they will begin training in preparation for the opening of the WHL Regular Season on January 8.
The WHL also announced today it has appointed Dr. Dhiren Naidu of Edmonton as the WHL Chief Medical Advisor. Dr. Naidu, an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta and Head Team Physician for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers and CFL’s Edmonton Football Team, served as the NHL Medical Director for the NHL hub, which just concluded in Edmonton. Dr. Naidu will be assisting the WHL with the implementation of its comprehensive health and safety protocol, in consultation with Provincial and State Health Authorities.
The WHL looks forward to continuing work with Government and Health Authorities in our region and will implement any measures that are necessary to protect our players, staff, officials, and fans during the COVID-19 pandemic. A final determination has not yet been made as to whether spectators will be permitted to attend WHL games as this will be subject to the approval of the Health Authorities in each jurisdiction.