As things transition to an opening worldwide, the figuring out of the next steps is where people stand.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has announced October 1 as their start date for the new season. This tweet put out by the Q comes on uncertainty of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL) as they haven’t offered a definite date to shoot for, though with the Q giving a date, means the others would have to follow suit somewhat. Many of the Quebec teams are small rinks where tickets sold and full houses are needed to run a squad. Like the other leagues, the Q has a few teams that have much larger centers but, these arenas typically also have many outside performers to fill their calendars. Unlike Quebec, in which all their teams are Canada-based, the WHL and OHL have US-based teams, which is making for much more difficult scheduling with the border closed at the current time, with the biggest stumbling block being the closure of the Canada/US Border until at least July 21.
OHL has three US-based teams, which are part of the two divisions they host, two in Michigan and one in Pennsylvania. All three are part of the Western Division.
The WHL has a separate division just for its US-based teams. The WHL has a much stronger divisional play with the majority of games played, happening as Inter-Division play. They may not be as affected as the OHL when it comes to games and travel, but the worry that the pandemic may last into the fall offers great concern as the three leagues depend on tickets sold to run their business operations.
David Branch, Commissioner of the Ontario Hockey League, posted the following statement:
“The OHL is looking forward to the upcoming hockey season. We plan to drop the puck in the Fall and will follow the lead of government and public health agencies on when it is safe to get back on the ice. Our players and coaches are getting ready to play and our teams are working on their plans to provide the great experience our fans and the community have come to expect from OHL hockey.”
The WHL has not yet released a statement, but with the OHL and QMJHL looking to a fall start, the WHL would have to run at the same time. This is, of course, after results from Covid 19 seem to be on a bit of a track upward. Multnomah County where the Winterhawks play just got the green light to enter Phase 1, which is a daunting task to get to some kind of normal in three months.
Former Winterhawk Brendan Leipsic, who saw his contract terminated by the Washington Capitals, seems to be headed overseas. Screenshots of a now-closed Instagram, had Leipsic commenting on teammates, former teammates and wives of both in a chatroom format with two of three others. The uproar has seen disciplinary action being taken on all involved. Brendan looks to be headed for the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) as was thought to be the case when he was released. The question was which team would be interested in securing his services. Leipsic was earning 700,000 on a one-year deal with Washington before the contract was terminated. The KHL tends to offer smaller contracts, so expect a pay cut for Leipsic, but it hasn’t been stated if this will be a longer deal. Most contracts, though, are one-year deals.
The Winterhawks’ bankruptcy situation will not be fully resolved until at least the end of June. With the virus causing issues in schedules, the Winterhawks have sort of achieved a reprieve of such. The case will now be decided at the end of the month and in the first week of July; the WHL will finalize the sale and the Hawks will be under new ownership. In the case of the executive management, they are expected to be retained by the new owners. Scott Sepich, who has covered the Hawks as a beat reporter, had done a great deal of research on the sale and its parameters and all of it seems to be two to three weeks away.
In actual Winterhawks news, Seth Jarvis was named to Canada’s National Junior team Summer Development Camp running from July 27-31. Selections will then be made to field a 2021 IIHF team. The IIHF will run in both Edmonton and Red Deer in 2021. Jarvis is in a field of 41 players including four goaltenders.
Cross Hanas was invited to the US World Junior Showcase with 43 skaters including four goaltenders in a weeklong event from July 24 to August 1. This roster also will be used to create a team to face off in the IIHF.
This will be a bolster to both players as they are eligible for this season’s draft class. Jarvis was ranked in the top 15 and Hanas was looked as a steal in round two or three.