A Few Weeks From Return To Play In The WHL, Is Normal Around The Corner?

Tri-City is trying to get back to normal as they get ready for a scheduled March 19 start to the US Division. Craig West who both broadcasts the games on radio and TV and is the house announcer has said almost all of the rink board ads in the Toyota Center have been sold. It helps when you have a smaller community.  

The Tri-City Americans also announced a trade in Blake Stevenson to Saskatoon Blades. Stevenson, who has two years of eligibility left, was one of those stuck in Canada, not able to play across the border. The fifth-round bantam pick allows Stevenson to continue for up to two more years. Then Tri-City was able to sign Jack Barnes to a contract and hope to have him as part of the shortened upcoming season. Barnes, who has played the past three years in Penticton, BC was another player stuck unable to get across the border as he hails from Plano, TX. 

Tri-City also announced the return of another longtime favorite to the area. Don Nachbaur, who served as the Am’s coach from 2003-2009 and has spent seasons in Seattle and Spokane in the WHL, returns as an Assistant Coach beside current Coach and GM Kelly Buchberger. Buchberger has held their Coach’s job for the past three seasons and adds to a strong behind the bench presence. Nachbaur won the Scotty Munro trophy for the most wins in 2008 and back-to-back Division titles in 2008 and 09. for Tri-City.  He also has 15 years of play time in the NHL, with 2 stints in the AHL with Binghampton and Philadelphia in the AHL as a coach and also as an Assistant Coast with the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL. His most recent appearances were as coaches for SC Bern of the top-tier league in Switzerland and HKM Zvolen of the top-tier league in Slovakia. His return to the Kennewick team will strengthen a very tough past couple of years, where they lagged at the bottom of the Division.

The Prince Albert Raiders are selling WHL Live packages to its season ticket holders 
The Prince Albert Raiders sent out an email to its season ticket holders with different price options for the new WHL Live streaming service on CHL TV. The email was also posted on the Prince Albert Raiders Fan Page on Facebook. 
The Raiders are selling its season ticket holders the WHL Live All Access Package for $24.99, with it being sold to the general public at $59.99. That includes access to every game played in the WHL this year, available both live and on-demand. 
Package #1: WHL All Access Package = $24.99 (59.99 retail) 
Package #2: WHL All Access Package + $20 Raider Gift Certificate = $34.99 ($79.99 retail) 
Package #3: WHL All Access Package + 50th Season Raider Hat & 50th Season Patch = $50.00 ($108.99 retail) 
Package #4: WHL All Access Package + Raider Replica Jersey (home or away) = $99.99 ($188.99 retail) There has been no further announcements from any of the other WHL Franchises as to how they would implement their numbers. 

Portland is an interesting story as they had sold the merchandise to an outside company a few years back and with the sale, no one is sure how this would unfold should they try the style of the Raiders. The numbers listed in the article are also in Canadian dollars which would be cheaper in the US. 

This week, 59 COVID19 tests were administered to the Calgary Hitmen in 2 phases. First when they arrived and following quarantine and they had no positive tests. They are also now allowed to begin in person practices.

The Central Division season is set to start in a week with Calgary on March 5 for games.  Currently everything looks set for the Central Division to begin February 26. The BC Division has resubmitted their Return to Play protocol and has yet to hear from the PHO on whether it has received approval.

It appears only the US Division will have access to European players, In reviewing websites for the US Teams, only they are posting European players. Canadian teams have replaced all European players with Canadian players. 

From the Gregg Drinnan blog “On the Road Again” it appears the Alberta Junior Hockey League which suspended operations in November, has been given the green light to resume in its attempt at a Return to Play protocol.  

The BCHL Prince George Spruce Kings has had a rough time as according to Drinnan, several outbreaks of COVID occurred.  The Press Release is as follows:

The League Office has received notice that multiple members of the Prince George Spruce Kings have tested positive for COVID-19. The Spruce Kings immediately reached out to Northern Health for direction, as per our accepted safety plan, and the League Office has notified the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

At this point, the affected team members and all close contacts have been placed in a 14-day quarantine and anyone showing symptoms will be tested as soon as possible.

The PHO will dictate any further measures they may feel are necessary, based on the results of those additional tests and the protocols agreed to in the BCHL’s COVID-19 Safety Plan.

For the privacy of the people affected, we will have no further comment at this time. 

The BCHL had hoped to resume games, but with the latest issue in Prince George, those plans have been put on hold. In the past, an announcement by a team on COVID19 resulted in a hefty fine, so Prince George is strictly going on a Press Release only. 

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About Stuart Kemp 302 Articles
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club since 2008 and has been following hockey from his native Canada since he can remember, though he can't skate, but played road hockey for several years. Loving hockey and professional wrestling, he has traveled to most of the WHL cities and with wrestling, has seen four provinces and five states. It is true that every Canadian city with more than 500 residents has a hockey rink, well at least it looks that way. Stuart has had his hand in every facet of independent Professional wrestling as he debuted as an announcer in 1986 which started his career.