When Can We Expect the Portland Winterhawks To Play Again?

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After being on the sidelines and staying mute for a period of a few months, the OHL has looked at the reality of a season and has now pushed theirs to February. They have now announced a start date of February 4, 2021.

The Ontario Hockey League posted the following on their website:

Toronto, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League today announced an updated timeline on its Return to Play plan for the 2020-21 season as it continues to work with government and health agencies to finalize outstanding matters that help ensure the health and safety of all members of the OHL community.

“Although we are eager to get back on the ice, the safety and well-being of our players, staff, officials, tremendous fans and communities remains paramount,” said OHL Commissioner David Branch. “We remain committed to providing our players with a safe, first-class development experience as they pursue their professional and academic goals, and we look forward to the planned opening of our Regular Season on Thursday, February 4.”

Under the new timelines, OHL Training Camps are scheduled to commence on Saturday, January 23 in preparation for the 2020-21 Regular Season that will feature a 40-game schedule running from Thursday, February 4 through Saturday, May 8. Teams will play primarily against opponents in their geographic region in an effort to reduce travel in consideration of the health and safety of all players and staff. Details concerning the structure of team alignment will be made available upon release of the 2020-21 OHL Regular Season schedule.

A total of eight teams will qualify for the 2021 OHL Playoffs in pursuit of the J. Ross Robertson Cup that gets underway on Tuesday, May 11. The OHL Playoffs will consist of three rounds, the first being a best-of-five opening round, followed by two best-of-seven formats to crown a League champion by no later than Monday, June 14. The 2021 Memorial Cup presented by Kia is scheduled to begin Thursday, June 17 in either Oshawa or Sault Ste. Marie.

The news comes on the Western Hockey League’s start date on January 8, which may have adjustments going forward. The players from the WHL are listed as arriving post Christmas, but with the timing of the OHL post, it is uncertain.

Add to the list of suspending activities was the Drummondville Voltigeurs with positive tests. They first had one positive on October 24 and followed it up with six more. They are now on a 14-day quarantine. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has now found a problem with the video streaming service payments. Due to issues with quarantines and postponed games, the Q has had to retool its video pricing. They sent out a message through the website:

Please find below the refund policy provided by Endeavor Streaming, Rogers and Videotron regarding the  webcasts of the postponed games for the month of October.

For users wishing to cancel their All-Access Monthly Package: Users will receive 1/30 th of the subscription price paid, times the number of days remaining in their monthly cycle. Given the exceptional circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, refunds for the month of October 2020 will be calculated as of October 14 th, the day the QMJHL announced that the East and West Division teams would postpone their games scheduled before October 28 th.  All refund requests must be sent by email to  lhjmqlive@endeavorstreaming.com.

For users wishing to continue their All-Access Monthly Package subscription, but seeking compensation for postponed games:  Each such user will receive a refund/credit of 25% off their current month’s subscription price.  Given the exceptional circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, this credit will be applied proactively (for the ensuing month only, November in this case) for all customers who purchased their packages prior to October 20 th of 2020.

With all the uncertainty going on, the biggest issue will be how many games can actually be played between now and the scheduled Memorial Cup date in June? What teams can take the financial hit? Most felt that the 68 game schedule allows most teams to  come close to break even and a shortened season certainly doesn’t allow for this. Losses continue with idle teams, but one wonders whether the losses will be higher should they try to play without all the safeguards in place. 

The issue of travel, borders and so on still hasn’t been addressed and in many cases it seems the numbers of infections are going up, not down. Though Governments are loosening restrictions on certain things like arenas, bowling alleys etc, the situation with a non pay to play which is the model of the CHL and instead they are looking to make revenue happen. The WHL needs at least a 50% capacity for any of these teams to be able to pay bills, which currently is nowhere close to where they are now.

The BCHL is scheduled to run in December, but has a bit of a problem with one team. That team is in Wenatchee, WA which is unable to travel across the border due to closures. They are trying to run in Coeur D’Alene which is close to Spokane on the Idaho/ WA border. They were hoping to have 10-16 WHL players so as to try and make things similar to a game situation. In the end, they had eight players, two of which were goaltenders. Braden Holt from Everett and Junior Porter from Spokane split netminding duties with two goalies from Wenatchee. They are hoping to have six games playing Friday and Saturday ending in November. 

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About Author

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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