For the first time in 102 years there will be no Canadian Major Junior Hockey Championship, or a trophy presented, or a winner for that matter. On Monday evening the Canadian Hockey League announced that its season has come to an end, while the postseason and Memorial Cup has also been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
No further hockey will be played in March, while the typical April and May four-round playoff has also been nixed. The CHL is the governing body of the the three major junior leagues in Canada: the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The Memorial Cup, scheduled to run from May 22-31 in Kelowna, BC has also been cancelled. There will be no all-Manitoban first round playoff matchup between the Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg ICE, after excitement rose following the season’s early conclusion.
After originally announcing a pause to the 2019-20 season, the league made clear the season’s cancellation on the 18th, with playoffs to follow when safe to resume on a points percentage buy-in. Then on Monday, the full postseason cancellation was announced. This news hit players, managers, coaches and fans rather hard, but came with a purpose.
“Nothing is more important to the WHL than the health and safety of our players, officials, staff, and fans,” said WHL Commissioner Ron Robison in a league-issued press release. “Without any ability to predict as to when it will be safe and responsible to return to play, the WHL has made the difficult decision to cancel the WHL Playoffs and the balance of the 2019-20 season. All of us at the WHL will continue to do our part in battling this virus so that we may be in a position to enjoy more WHL hockey.”
Matt Cockell of the Winnipeg ICE and Kelly McCrimmon of the Brandon Wheat Kings participated in a WHL Board of Governors meeting, where the clubs and owners consulted with medical professionals, coming to the conclusion that the safest route for the league to head in is a complete shut down.
“The health and welfare of our players and the billets and everyone involved in the organizations are paramount for us,” said CHL President Dan Mackenzie in a press release. “Some things are bigger than hockey. There was real suffering going on around the world and closer to home.”
Unfortunately for the city of Kelowna, the Memorial Cup will not be played. Not only has it been bumped back a few weeks or a month, but eliminated entirely. The schedule has been made for the 2020-21 season already, and the OHL is set to host.
“We looked at a variety of options,” MacKenzie said about the idea of rescheduling the Memorial Cup. “How late we can move it back from the schedule in Kelowna, then moving the event from Kelowna. We looked at other places. Over the last 48 hours we got to the point where we had run out of choices.”