Portland Winterhawks Fans Meet The New Owners Via Video And More Updates Off The Ice

The Western Hockey League announced that it wanted to host a 24-game schedule. Based on the divisional alignment, the teams would play 12 home and 12 away with most doing a pair against each team in the division in pairs with them most likely played without fans. With the list of the Memorial Cup being late June, the “season” would start late February to early March. Of course that really depends if they can get players in the venues and if the venues can open to allow them in.  The World Juniors completed their 10-team tournament in Edmonton with the US winning a 2-0 decision over Canada and from what reports have come out, cases have not cropped up. They were testing a great deal and making sure they were well sheltered from being exposed to illnesses. The Portland Winterhawks are looking to give their players as many chances as they can and released the following media blast:

WINTERHAWKS ANNOUNCE 2020-21 PLAYER DEVELOPMENT PLAN

The Western Hockey League announced Friday the WHL Board of Governors have made a commitment to play a WHL 2020-21 Regular Season. The health and safety of our fans, players, staff, and Portland area community will continue to be our first priority.

While the Winterhawks are committed to playing this season, our dedication to the development of our players and doing what is best for them and their playing careers also remains paramount.

For this reason, the Winterhawks have released players Jack O’Brien, James Stefan, Clay Hanus, and Cross Hanas to the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. All players will return to Portland at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.

“With the uncertainty of our start date due to restrictions in Oregon and Washington, we felt the opportunity for these four American players to play significant games could not be passed up,” said Winterhawks Vice President, General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston.

Additionally, goaltender Joel Hofer and captain John Ludvig will have the opportunity as signed NHL prospects to play in the American Hockey League or National Hockey League this season.

Once the team is cleared to return to Portland, the WHL 2020-21 Regular Season schedule will be released.

The Winterhawks group released a YouTube video. The plan was originally for season ticket holders to see it, but is has been announced to a variety of social media pages. The initial email was one that some didn’t receive and with the pandemic going on, the video should be available to as many as possible. The video started with the fans seeing for the first time Michael Kramer and Kerry Preete. There are others in the ownership group, but they won’t be the focus. The discussion of whether there would be a season or not was brought up. It is still to be determined. The building question was brought up as well with Kerry Preete pushing Veterans Memorial Coliseum as the day to day home with special events at the Moda Center. (Based on last year’s schedule,  it appears that going forward that it will be predominately games at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum). Kerry Preete identified that the Coliseum will be the “home barn” as they work with city officials to make further upgrades. President Doug Piper and General Manager / Coach Mike Johnston joined later in the thirty minute presentation. Video streaming was brought up with the recent change. Piper was emphatic that the services were a priority and would be the focus in the initial games played, which probably wouldn’t have fans. Though there were probably many questions, few were answered as right now, until games get going again, we will have a better idea. 

In other news around the WHL, Cam Moon, who has been the voice of the Red Deer Rebels, was leaving to join the Edmonton Oilers as their broadcast both on radio on 630AM CHED and also play-by-play for Oilers regional broadcasts. Moon has been part of the Red Deer Rebels since 1998 and has a storied history since he started as a goaltender in the SJHL and WHL before shifting to Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) where he graduated with the degree in broadcasting and journalism. He would work part time at TSN and doing midget games and CHL games with the OHL and QMJHL. He landed in Red Deer in 1998 after quick stints in Nanaimo for the Clippers and as a roving reporter for the Memorial Cups in Sault Ste. Marie and Kamloops in 1993 and 1995.  Brent Sutter, Owner / President, General Manager and Coach, has acknowledged they have an interim plan for the proposed 24-game season and then do a permanent search in the offseason.

The Ontario Hockey League is going to have some trouble in running in the near future. The Ontario Government has extended its Emergency Mandate through the end of February. This is making things even tougher when it comes to trying to even think of a schedule. As it is, they are running out of time if they hope to run their proposed 40-game schedule and may have a tough time if they want to do like the WHL is proposing as a 24-game schedule. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is set to resume on January 22 and hosting bubble tournaments with three teams per pod. Only the Quebec teams are set to be in this with three teams per group. The hybrid which has become the norm for the QMJHL starts again hopefully on January 22. The plan is to have games in these arenas and teams playing 12 games within the next three weeks and then assess the Maritimes market as this tournament is starting to see if these can coincide with each other to then continue through to the eventual playoffs. 

The QMJHL released the following:

Montreal, QC — Quebec-based Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams will resume play on January 22nd in four different markets: Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Rimouski and Shawinigan.

The four cities were selected to host the second QMJHL Protected Environment events that will take place from January 22nd to 24th. Two teams will join each host organization to play two games in three days.

Chicoutimi, Drummondville and Rimouski will also host the following Protected Environment events which will be held from January 29th to February 6th.  Each arena will host one or two games per day with a total of twelve games being played over nine days (six per team).

“This announcement comes after constructive dialogue with Quebec Public Health Officials and a positive review of our first event which was held in Quebec City a few weeks ago,” said QMJHL Commissioner Gilles Courteau. “The league’s priority is to enable our players to play hockey while pursuing their education within the safest possible environments. These types of events became the most effective way to achieve these objectives.”

For teams based in the Maritimes, the situation will be reevaluated after the Holidays, but the league’s objective is to resume playing a regular schedule as soon as January 21, 2021.

All regular season games scheduled until January 21st are postponed and will be rescheduled to a later date. The protected environment schedules will be also be announced at a later date.

Earlier in December, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced that Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Rimouski and Shawinigan would host protected environment events in January. Today, the league unveiled the teams and the schedule for each event.

JANUARY 22-24

Groups 

  • Centre Georges-Vézina, Chicoutimi
    • Teams: Chicoutimi, Baie-Comeau and Sherbrooke
  • Centre Marcel-Dionne, Drummondville
    • Teams : Drummondville, Val-d’Or and Gatineau
  • Colisée Financière Sun Life, Rimouski
    • Teams: Rimouski, Blainville-Boisbriand and Quebec City
  • Centre Gervais-Auto, Shawinigan
    • Teams: Shawinigan, Rouyn-Noranda and Victoriaville

JANUARY 30 – FEBRUARY 7

Groups

  • Centre Georges-Vézina, Chicoutimi
    • Teams: Chicoutimi, Gatineau, Val-d’Or and Victoriaville
  • Centre Marcel-Dionne, Drummondville
    • Teams: Drummondville, Blainville-Boisbriand, Rouyn-Noranda and Sherbrooke
  • Colisée Financière Sun Life, Rimouski
    • Teams: Rimouski, Baie-Comeau, Quebec City and Shawinigan
About Stuart Kemp 224 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.

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