Projected WHL start date pushed back to Dec. 4

Western Hockey League fans will have to wait a little bit longer for the 2020-21 season to get underway.

The league announced in a statement on Thursday afternoon that the upcoming campaign is now slated to start on Friday, Dec. 4 instead of the Friday, Oct. 2. opening date that was part of their initial return to play announcement in June.

“Regardless of our start date, the WHL is committed to playing a full (68-game) regular season and playoffs in 2020-21,” WHL commissioner Ron Robison said in a prepared statement.

“In our discussions with the government and health authorities, it has become apparent that additional time is required to ensure we can return to play in a safe and responsible manner. Our WHL health and safety protocols have been well received by the health authorities but we have several key issues that we will need to reach a resolution on in the coming months.”

The WHL’s announcement comes a day after the Ontario Hockey League revealed that they are looking to start their 2020-21 season on Tuesday, Dec. 1 as part of their return to play plan.

Meanwhile, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is still targeting a start date of Thursday, Oct. 1, but they are currently waiting for approval from provincial health authorities.