WHL announces Return to Play initiative

Following their Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, the Western Hockey League announced details on their plans for the 2020-21 campaign.

“The WHL has appointed special task forces in each of the six jurisdictions (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon) to work directly with government and health authorities to ensure the health and safety of WHL players, staff, officials, and fans are a top priority in the Return to Play protocol,” the league said in a prepared statement. “The outcome of these discussions with government authorities will ultimately determine the start date for the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season.

“The WHL has targeted a start date of Friday, October 2 for the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season, but this date remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from government and health authorities in each of the six jurisdictions in WHL territory. The WHL is committed to protecting the integrity of the WHL Regular Season schedule, and fully intends to complete a full 68-game schedule for 2020-21, regardless of when the season begins.”

The league also announced that they are working with government and health authorities in each region to determine the numbers of fans that will be allowed in each arena.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League had previously stated they are hoping to start their campaign on October 1 with a certain percentage of spectators in the stands, while the Ontario Hockey League has yet to announce a return date.

In other news, a new streaming service will be introduced across the Canadian Hockey League for next year, with further details to be announced.