OHL pushes season start date back to Jan. 2021
LONDON, ONT. -- The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) won't begin training camps until Jan. 23, 2021, according to a team executive who wished to remain anonymous.
The 20 general managers met virtually Wednesday morning to discuss the new start date, which is two months later than the original target of Nov. 15.
Players first heard about the pushback in a tweet by TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger Tuesday night.
"It obviously sucks," says Connor McMichael, a London Knights forward after a skate at Western Fair District in London, Ont.
"We've been training hard to get back at it in a couple of weeks. It's out of our control, but if we stick to our routine, when that day comes we'll be ready for it."
Knights teammate Nathan Dunkley called the news "frustrating."
"At this point you just have to stay optimistic," says Dunkley, a native of Campbellford, Ont. "The longer the wait, maybe the sweeter it will be."
League executives are staying silent until an official announcement is made.
However, in the GM meeting Wednesday, teams learned a 40-game regular season is planned starting Feb. 4, 2021 with eight teams making the playoffs instead of 16.
International players would have to enter Canada by Jan. 8, 2021 for a 14-day quarantine.
Many of the other details regarding fans, travel, contact and schedule weren't given, and still need to be ironed out.
The border closure still presents a major hurdle. Londoner Mason Millman plays for Saginaw. He and his Spirit teammates have thrown around some ideas.
"We've come up with some funny plans where we think we are world renowned scientists," says Millman, a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick.
"I've been talking with 'Drinks' (Spirt GM Dave Drinkell) & Laz (Spirit Head Coach Chris Lazary) mainly just wait to see what OHL says and health officials. They do what they do for a reason and we do what we do for a reason. We aren't here to second guess what health officials are saying, I trust them more than what I think."
At this point there is still a plan for a World Junior Hockey Championship to be played in a 'bubble' in Edmonton. If the Christmastime tournament goes ahead, McMichael will get in some game action long before the OHL season starts.
"I haven't played a game since March so I'm looking forward to the World Juniors," says McMichael.
"It's going to be fun, and I hope we can repeat. We all want to play hockey, but everyone's health and safety comes first."
The OHL is expected to release full details in a statement Thursday morning.