Western Hockey League hopes to start season in December

WHL pushes back start

The Western Hockey League has joined the OHL in announcing plans to open the 2020-2021 season in December.

The WHL's new target date is Dec. 4.

The announcement Thursday comes a day after the Ontario Hockey League made a similar announcement.

In June, WHL commissioner Ron Robison said the league had hoped to restart at the beginning of October if it could get approvals from the various provincial and state health authorities to do so.

That has now been pushed back.

The league is still stipulating any restart is contingent on receiving the go ahead from each of those governments and health authorities.

In a news release, the league says discussions with those governing bodies concerning safety measures the league is prepared to undertake in order to protect players, fans and staff, and to address issues such as fan capacity and border crossing.

By moving to a December start, the league says it now has more time to address those issues.

“Regardless of our start date, the WHL is committed to playing a full regular season and playoffs in 2020-21,” said Robison.

“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.”

In announcing its plan to return Wednesday, the OHL, which is hosting the Memorial Cup, says dates for the national championship tournament have been pushed back as well to June 17 to 27.

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