OHL To Return Without Bodychecking?
While the QMJHL regular season has already begun, it appears the OHL will have a more difficult row to hoe in getting their season off the ground.
One hurdle to overcome is – will the league be allowed to proceed with bodychecking as part of the game? The answer is no, if you ask the Provincial government.
Many in the hockey world argue that in a league which aims to develop players for the professional game, or Canadian university hockey, proceeding without bodychecking would make the season pointless.
But according to Canada’s health officials, safety is first while the coronavirus is present.
“It would be safe to say that body contact, unless it’s incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19,” Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture said last week. “That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play.”
Doug Ford’s new restriction on re-openings, which is set to be in place for a month, has also hampered the OHL, who are impacted by this mandate.
The QMJHL, who is a member partner of the Canadian Hockey League along with the OHL and WHL is already playing (although they were just forced to pause the season), with Maritime teams even welcoming thousands of fans, while Quebec teams are playing without fans.
Currently, another issue facing the OHL apart from figuring out how or if to advance without bodychecking, is the fact that the league also includes three teams based in the United States (Erie, Saginaw, Flint), as well as teams such as Mississauga and Ottawa who have been placed back into Phase 2 of the Province’s reopening plans.
Whatever the OHL does, will likely be trickled down to Junior A, Junior B, and Junior C teams.