The BCHL is continuing to move forward with plans from their Return-to-Play Task Force for the 2020/21 season.
The Return-to-Play Task Force was created by the BCHL in early June to look at numerous scenarios as to when and how the BCHL could resume their schedule. According to the BCHL, the Board of Governors reviewed several different models from the task force and from the league office.
“We had some very productive discussions with our Governors regarding a safe return to play for the BCHL,” said Chris Hebb, BCHL Commissioner. “We support our provincial health authorities and will comply with the guidelines put in place to make sure the safety of our players, staff and fans are always at the forefront. That being said, we can’t wait to drop the puck on what is sure to be an exciting 2020-21 season.”
The Return-to-Play Task Force is also working with Provincial Health Authorities to develop safety measures and return-to-play guidelines for the BCHL’s 18 teams.
Among the options included various start dates depending on restrictions from the B.C. Government as well as ways to combat financial pressures on teams and safety protocols for players, staff, and fans.
“The BCHL has been around for 59 years and we look forward to continuing that tradition for many years to come,” said Hebb. “Our league provides numerous jobs for residents of B.C. as well as education opportunities for hundreds of players, including 188 university and college student athletes last year alone, with many more expected in the coming months.”
The Hockey Canada Registry (HCR) opened as of Monday, meaning teams in the CJHL could building their rosters through off-season trades for the 2020/21 season.
“Obviously, this isn’t a normal offseason, but with the HCR opening up on schedule, it will be business as usual for our teams as they prepare for the 2020-21 season,” said Steven Cocker, BCHL Executive Director. “The opening of the HCR is another step in the right direction for a return to play. Our Return-to-Play Task Force has been working diligently to ensure we have not left a single stone unturned as it relates to contingency plans.”
Cocker said the BCHL fully plans on playing this fall as soon as they get approval from both Hockey Canada and health authorities.
Meanwhile, discussions continue with the B.C. Government as the BCHL has talked with both Premier John Horgan and Lisa Beare, B.C. Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture.
“We’ve had lengthy discussions with Minister Beare and her office since sending them a letter in early April,” said Graham Fraser, Chairman of the BCHL Board of Governors. “Upon their request, we also submitted a detailed return-to-play plan and they are in the process of reviewing it.”
Fraser said their call with Premier Horgan was also positive, as he noted the importance of the BCHL’s teams on their 18 communities and surrounding areas.
“Premier Horgan, along with Minster Beare, heard our request for financial support and both understand our position,” noted Fraser. “We will continue these discussions with the provincial government in the coming weeks.”