On Monday morning, Hockey Manitoba announced a further ruling towards the participation in hockey activities during the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region’s ‘Code Red’ shutdown.
“For the safety of all members, both hockey teams and individuals (players, officials, and team staff) residing in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region are ineligible to participate in hockey programming beginning November 2, 2020 and will be revisited on November 15, 2020,” the statement read.
After initially proclaiming the message from Dr. Roussin last Friday, in which Hockey Manitoba indicated that all hockey programming for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region would be suspended effective Monday, November 2, the governing body also announced that all Hockey Winnipeg sanctioned events would be postponed effective Saturday, October 31.
That meant that all practices, development sessions, games, exhibition games, dryland workouts and all other team functions were postponed. Minor hockey teams were also not permitted to travel outside of the city to attempt to dodge the ruling and continue with hockey activities. Hockey Manitoba advised that many local rinks had already shut their respective doors on Friday evening, and encouraged participants to check with their teams to see if previously scheduled icetimes were still on tap.
With the Province of Manitoba announcing a maximum capacity of 25 percent in all operating provincial recreation facilities outside of the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region effective Monday, November 2, players, teams and leagues had been travelling outside of that designated region to participate in games and practices, something Hockey Manitoba is now cracking down on.
“We would like to encourage our members to follow the Provincial guidelines,” a statement from Hockey Winnipeg read. “The sooner we can stop the spread of COVID-19 the sooner we can get back to the rink. When more information becomes available regarding a return to sanctioned activity it will be shared at that time.”
On Friday, the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League announced its immediate suspension of all hockey activities, including the postponement of games Friday evening and on, prior to the set date of enforcement.
“For the time being, all MMJHL games have been postponed due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases and because the city of Winnipeg has moved to the red, or critical level,” a statement from the MMJHL read. “We are all hoping that the postponement of our season will only be temporary. Please check back for updates as they become available. We would like to thank you all for your support in this difficult time and look forward to resuming play in the near future.”
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League, however, carried on with games as regularly scheduled on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the exception of Saturday night’s contest between OCN and the Kings in Dauphin (due to poor driving conditions), while the two weekend games between the Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze were postponed. Of the 12 scheduled matchups, nine were played, while two were cancelled reactively following the provincial government’s announcement.
On Monday, the MJHL released an update on its plan moving forward, building off of the ruling of ineligibility of all players residing within the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region. To that point, the league announced that all games involving any of the Winnipeg Blues, Winnipeg Freeze or Selkirk Steelers will be postponed for the time period beginning immediately. All other games will carry on as regularly scheduled for the coming weekend, prior to a self-imposed break running until November 20.
The following was issued by the MJHL Monday:
“As an organization which operates within all regions of the province, we will continue to evaluate and make decisions based on current health orders along with the mental/physical health and well-being of our players, staff, and supporting communities.
This also involves constantly assessing the crucial cultural, societal, economic and mental health benefits our organizations provide within their supporting communities.
This balance has and will continue to require operational changes to our schedule and hockey activity protocols / procedures moving forward. Each MJHL team/ownership group remains steadfast in their commitment to providing elite on and off ice development opportunities for MJHL players in a safe environment during this difficult time.
As always, we appreciate the continued support of the entire MJHL community as we continue to navigate through these unprecedented challenges together in a safe, structured and responsible manner.
The MJHL would also like to acknowledge the outstanding support and commitment provided by league corporate partners in the midst of these difficult times.”