Though it had been clear for the last few weeks, today brought the death knell for the 2020-21 OHL season. The junior league announced the end of its return to play plans, stating that the recent extended stay at home order in Ontario along with the increasing cases of COVID-19 has made it impossible to hold a season. OHL commissioner David Branch released a statement:
We have worked tirelessly with the Province and the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the past year on different scenarios and different windows of opportunity but the reality is the conditions in Ontario have never been right to start and complete an uninterrupted, safe opportunity for players to showcase their skills. We owe it to our players and their families to be definitive. We were committed to return and play this season, but our hopes and desires have been dashed by the cruel realities of COVID-19.
A few weeks ago things looked much different, as the OHL and Ontario government had reached an agreement on return to play. Unfortunately just as those plans were supposed to be announced, the province’s COVID numbers took a turn for the worse and the hub city plan was scrapped.
It’s brutal news for the players who have now been stranded for a full season, unable to play and showcase their talents for prospective NHL organizations. Even worse perhaps for those who will not play hockey professionally and only have a very small window to compete at the major junior level.
Importantly, players like Buffalo’s Jack Quinn, who normally wouldn’t be eligible to play in the AHL because of his age, will now be able to remain there for the rest of the season.