This past week, hockey came to a screeching halt. After the players were allowed to return home, there was hope that, somehow, a playoff might come about.
That hope was dashed when it was announced this week by all three members of the CHL, the QMJHL, OHL and WHL, along with the president of the CHL, that not only would the playoffs be cancelled, but so to would the Memorial Cup scheduled to take place during Memorial Day week in Kelowna.
Due to the revolving cup sites, the OHL is slated to host the Cup in 2021. In some ways, this may have inadvertently assisted the Kelowna Rockets. After barely making the wildcard berth, they would have to face the Kamloops Blazers, a team that ruled the BC Division in 2019/20 and would probably see the Rockets sit on the sidelines for the duration of the playoffs up until the Memorial Cup. The Rockets would have faced incredible odds had they competed in the Memorial Cup against a very tough OHL and QMJHL team and the eventual winner of the WHL as well. Though ticket sales had gone very well, had the team faltered badly, the damage could have been immeasurable.
Speaking of the WHL, the Board of Governors met via conference call and decided to end the season based on points percentage. The Portland Winterhawks, with 45 wins, hung on to narrowly edge the Everett Silvertips with 46 wins to become the Scotty Munro Champions for having the best record in the WHL. Edmonton Oil Kings slotted in third despite having played more games, their percentage based on games gave them their spot.
The OHL saw the Ottawa 67’s win the Hamilton Spectator Trophy for winning the OHL, and their 50-win season was impressive in just 62 games played.
In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Sherbrooke Phoenix ended the season with one more win after 64 games at 51 and captured the top of the CHL Poll. Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL also had 50 wins, like Ottawa, but played 64 games. And with that, Ottawa gets the nod to second place.
Despite the variances in games played, the panel of NHL scouts ranked the teams in this final order:
(1) Sherbrooke Phoenix, (2) Ottawa 67’s, (3) Moncton Wildcats, (4) Portland Winterhawks, (5) Everett Silvertips, (6) London Knights, (7) Chicoutimi Sagueneens, (8) Edmonton Oil Kings, (9) Saginaw Spirit, and (10) Spokane Chiefs, with honourable mention to the Kitchener Rangers, Kamloops Blazers, and Cape Breton Eagles.
With the season, playoffs and Memorial Cup scrapped, the turn of attention is to the draft. The Bantam draft where CHL teams pick players was to be held June 6, but the QMJHL says it will conduct theirs via conference call. The OHL and WHL will most likely follow suit in the coming weeks. The NHL draft, which is listed as June 26 and 27 for the The Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, may also look to other means should this situation continue on much further.