Date: League began play on Oct. 2, however Quebec-based groups stopped briefly about two weeks later after positive tests on 2 groups. Set up: The 18-team league is divided into two Quebec departments of 6 groups each plus 6 teams in a Maritimes department. 5 B.C. teams play in the B.C. Division. 4 United States teams will play in U.S. Division. Teams will only play within their division.

Knowing the Western Hockey League plans to start play once again on Jan. 8 has actually brought a sigh of relief from Zack Ostapchuk and some of the other gamers he's training with in St. Albert, Alta.

"I believe everybody is quite delighted," stated Ostapchuk, a 17-year-old forward with the Vancouver Giants. "We were all a little anxious that we weren't ever going to start. Now that we've got a date, the energy on the ice and in the dressing space is entirely altered. Everybody's positive now, however I simply want to get going."

Ostapchuk's interest might still be tempered by the truths dealt with by the people running Canada's 3 significant junior hockey leagues as they deal with the concerns developed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We never ever know from day to day what the scenario is going to be," stated Gilles Courteau, commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. "Every day there's something brand-new."

The 18-team QMJHL opened its season Oct. 2, however about 2 weeks later suspended play in both of its Quebec-based divisions since of favorable tests on two teams. Play continued for 5 of the 6 teams in the league's Maritimes department.

The Ontario Hockey League hopes its 20 groups can start play in December however "there's no particular date at this point," commissioner David Branch stated.

The Canadian Hockey League announced March 12 it was cancelling the staying video games in the 2020 regular season due to COVID-19. A few weeks later the Memorial Cup, set up for Kelowna, B.C., was cancelled.

Players, group officials and executives across Canada were left wondering when junior hockey would return.

"My whole summer has actually been getting concerns I can't address," said Barclay Parneta, basic supervisor of the Vancouver Giants.

OHL commissioner David Branch, above, says the league is intending to begin play at some point in December but no specifics have actually been exposed.

(Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)The closed border between Canada and the United States develops problems for both the OHL and WHL which have U.S. based groups. Travel limitations within Canada, safeguarding gamers'health and increasing infection rates in some provinces have provided more hoops league authorities have actually tried to jump through.

"Without concern, it's the most hard challenge I've ever dealt with both domestically and worldwide in hockey in 40 years," stated Ron Robison, commissioner of the 22-team WHL.

"We never envisioned this. But we remain in this together and we need to find methods to deal with it under the circumstances."

Leagues still aren't sure precisely the number of video games each group will play. None have completed their playoff strategies and information for the Memorial Cup haven't been revealed.

A lowered number of fans can participate in video games in some parts of the country however may not be permitted in other structures.

The QMJHL wants to resume using Oct. 28 however Courteau said talks are continuing with the Quebec federal government. Six of the 12 groups lie in red zones, where arranged sport is forbidden.

"It's not determined yet, so I can not offer you a response," he stated.

The league said Thursday that a player with the Drummondville Voltigeurs had actually tested positive for COVID-19.

Provincial participation

Politicians are also tossing a few bodychecks.

In Ontario, provincial sport minister Lisa MacLeod has actually suggested the OHL ought to get rid of bodychecking and physical contact if it desires to hold a safe season.

"There's a great deal of things that we are discussing with the provincial government," Branch said. "The entire package in regards to our return to play will end up being a vital piece. We'll simply see where that ends up."

In Quebec, Enrico Ciccone, a former NHL enforcer and now a Liberal Member of the National Assembly has actually presented an expense to prohibit fighting in sports for professional athletes younger than 18.

Courteau stated QMJHL authorities are studying the proposed expense.

Across the country, owners -- who already lost profits from in 2015's cancelled video games and playoffs -- are now facing the possibility of losing more cash due to the fact that of no fans.

"The losses are extremely, very considerable," Robison said. "It might threaten the ability for groups to be feasible progressing."

Courteau stated the 12 Quebec-based groups in the QMJHL will receive $1 million each from the provincial government to balance out some of their losses.

The league's six Maritimes teams have been enabling fans, ranging from 18 to 25 per cent of the structure capability.

QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau stated the league's 12 Quebec-based groups will get $1 million each in provincial support. (Peter McCabe/The Canadian Press)

To assist develop its return the WHL appointed Dr. Dhiren Naidu as primary medical consultant. Naidu served as the NHL medical director for the Edmonton hub used throughout this summer's NHL playoffs

The WHL has actually groups extended across four provinces and two U.S. states.

"There's great deals of challenges connected with the various jurisdictions and the conditions [of] the level of cases and how that's affected on the communities where we operate, and the facilities for that matter," Robison said.

"We're all familiar with the truth that we're dealing with very distinct situations. We're trying to do our finest to work our way through this."

Ostapchuk said the gamers understand and value the efforts being made for them.

"We simply want to play," he said.

CHL return-to-play plans

An appearance at how the three major junior hockey leagues wish to go back to play during COVID-19

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Date: League began play on Oct. 2, however Quebec-based groups stopped briefly about two weeks later on after favorable tests on 2 groups. Wants to resume Oct. 28

Set up: The 18-team league is divided into two Quebec departments of six groups each plus 6 teams in a Maritimes division. The teams wish to play a 60-game schedule within their own departments

Playoff Format: TBA:

Fans: Maritime Division teams have been enabling fans, varying from 18 to 25 per cent of the structure capacity.

Western Hockey League:

Date. Jan. 8.

Arrange: The 22-team league will be divided into four divisions. 7 groups from Saskatchewan and Manitoba will play in the East Division. 5 Alberta teams will play in the Central Division. Five B.C. groups play in the B.C. Division. Four United States teams will play in U.S. Division. Teams will only play within their division. Specific number of video games to be figured out however approximately 52 games possible.

Playoff Format: TBA.

Fans: Will depend on various jurisdictions.

Ontario Hockey League:

Date: Hopefully December however no particular date yet.

Set up: Still being developed for the 20-team league, with three U.S. franchises.

Playoff Format: TBA

Fans: To be determined.