Different models and scenarios are being pondered by the B.C. Hockey League for its 2020-21 season, with the league confident the season will go ahead.
The league’s board of governors has reviewed several models put forth by the league office.
Earlier in May, the league created a Return-to-Play Task Force, which is responsible for outlining several different scenarios on how and when the league can resume its schedule, while working with the Provincial Health Authorities to develop return-to-play guidelines and safety measures.
These scenarios include different start dates depending on government restrictions, potential ways to ease the financial burden on teams for the coming season and protocols to be put in place to promote the safety of BCHL players, staff and fans.
“We had some very productive discussions with our Governors regarding a safe return to play for the BCHL,” said commissioner Chris Hebb. “We support our provincial health authorities and will comply with the guidelines put in place to make sure the safety of our players, staff and fans are always at the forefront. That being said, we can’t wait to drop the puck on what is sure to be an exciting 2020-21 season.”
Hebb said the league looks forward to continuing 59 years of tradition.
“Our league provides numerous jobs for residents of B.C. as well as education opportunities for hundreds of players, including 188 university and college student-athletes last year alone, with many more expected in the coming months,” he said.
Hockey Canada announced over the weekend that the Hockey Canada Registry (HCR) will open today, Monday, June 1, as scheduled. This means that Canadian Junior Hockey League teams will be allowed to start making acquisitions to build their rosters for the 2020-21 season.
“Obviously, this isn’t a normal offseason, but with the HCR opening up on schedule, it will be business as usual for our teams as they prepare for the 2020-21 season,” said BCHL executive director Steven Cocker. “The BCHL is fully planning on playing this fall, as soon as we receive approval from Hockey Canada and the health authorities. The opening of the HCR is another step in the right direction for a return to play. Our Return-to-Play Task Force has been working diligently to ensure we have not left a single stone unturned as it relates to contingency plans.”
The league is also continuing discussions with the provincial government, including conversations with B.C. Premier John Horgan, as well as Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture, Lisa Beare.
“We’ve had lengthy discussions with Minister Beare and her office since sending them a letter in early April,” said Graham Fraser, chairman of the BCHL board of governors. “Upon their request, we also submitted a detailed return-to-play plan and they are in the process of reviewing it.
“Our call with Premier Horgan was also positive. He understands the importance of the BCHL to its 18 communities, as well as the entire province. Premier Horgan, along with Minster Beare, heard our request for financial support and both understand our position. We will continue these discussions with the provincial government in the coming weeks.”
The league expands to 18 teams for 2020-21 as the Cranbrook Bucks will begin play in the Interior Division.