ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE OJHL
The Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) announced today that the league’s Board of Governors have voted in favour to cancel the 2020-2021 season.
With the Province of Ontario currently under a 28-day Stay at Home order, and the official 2020-2021 Hockey Canada season ending on May 31, 2021, the league has declared an end to its OJHL season.
In August 2020, the OJHL developed a comprehensive “Return to the Rink” procedural plan with strict protocols which were presented and approved by the OHF for Junior hockey to be used in each of the leagues under the OHA. These protocols have been followed for all of the exhibition play within the association that have taken place this season with tremendous success and safety of all those who were able to participate.
Although a significant amount of diligent planning, preparation and consultation with relevant medical professionals has taken place to date, the current Stay at Home order, due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, has resulted in additional operational challenges for the league to undertake a successful season for all of its teams. That includes some municipalities moving to remove ice in their facilities with the announcement of the recent Provincial Covid 19 restrictions.
“Week after week, the OJHL has adjusted the league plan with the goal of getting any type of possible season in for our players,” stated OJHL Commissioner Marty Savoy. “With Ontario currently in a 28-day Stay at Home order and the end of the Hockey Canada season fast approaching, the league’s Board of Governors have made the very difficult decision to officially conclude the 2020-2021 OJHL season and turn our attention and planning for the upcoming 2021-2022 season. While this past year has been difficult for everyone, our immediate focus is to lean in to our 2021-2022 planning with a continued focus on health and safety, along with exciting operational enhancements we have been working towards for our league, which we will have details on soon.”
To date, only six OJHL member clubs, including the Cobourg Cougars, have been able to conduct a total of 58 exhibition games this season due to regional Public Health Unit regulations and restrictions. The OJHL is proud of the results of gameplay and operations in those regions where no spread of Covid was detected in and among the rinks and teams playing each other.
While the season is being concluded, the league also announced that once the current “Stay at Home” orders are lifted, teams which are permitted to play and able to do so within their respective Regional Health Unit, will be allowed to conduct exhibition play together with the continued approval process the league has implemented along with its strict Covid-19 operating protocols.
“The OJHL has studied every possible scenario to get our players back on the ice and, unfortunately, with the current state of the pandemic and provincial guidelines, we are unable to conduct the 2020-2021 season,” stated OJHL Chairman Marc Mercier. “As a Governor of a team (Cobourg Cougars) within the league, I realize the disappointment and impact this decision has on our players. The league will continue to look at other possible programming for our teams and players, however the official 2020-2021 season has been concluded and all of our attention has been set upon a safe and exciting upcoming season. On behalf of our Governors, our board of Directors and our players, we’d like to thank the tireless efforts of our front line workers, our sponsors, volunteers and most importantly, our fans. We’re all looking forward to our Province healing and coming together very soon to play the game we love”